How They Abuse — Invalidation

 

Here’s a man’s perspective on emotional abuse which elaborates even further on the sneaky tactics abusers often use to get others to see THEM–not the actual abused–as the victim. There’s even an acronym for this I was not aware of: DARVO (Deflect–Attack–Reverse Victim and Offender)

Roll Away My Shame

In various articles and blogs I’ve read about abuse by invalidation. This has been a huge part of my experience, and is ongoing in a big way because I’m unable to leave my abuser at this time. Invalidation is a tactic that hurts the victim by way of frequently rejecting the victim, disallowing even the basic acceptance that people rely on for normal functioning. It involves questioning or denying the truth of their pain, experience, perception, memory, et cetera.

To be clear, I am not talking about having a difference of opinion, or even a heated disagreement. I’m talking about abuse, which entails a pattern of behavior that is injurious.

Invalidation is one of the most insidious ways to abuse a person. It causes a tremendous amount of strain and damage in the victim. I suspect this is largely because it can go on for so long without being detected…

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Does your narcissist do this?

no_empathy

There is something I noticed narcissists do, that is one of the most infuriating things about them. They seek to invalidate your experience or side with others who have hurt you, even if there’s no real reason for them to do this.

Here are some examples from real life:

You: “I don’t really like that person.”
Narcissist: “Well, *I* never had a problem with them.”

You: “I really like that person.”
Narcissist: “Well, *I* don’t!”

You: “I wish we got paid every week instead of every two weeks.”
Narcissist: “Well, it doesn’t bother *me*!”

You: “I’m so heartbroken since he left.”
Narcissist: “Well, if you had been more attentive he might have stayed!”

You: “I wish I had more friends.”
Narcissist: “Well, you’re not that easy to be around, you know.”

A great example of this is the way my mother used to act when I told her about a problem I was having at work. No matter what the situation, it was always my fault. One time I made the mistake of telling her I thought there was a lot of favoritism at my job and I was being passed over for promotions (a problem that’s familiar to me due to my avoidant/Aspie personality). Instead of getting sympathy or support, she shot back with, “Well, you must be doing something wrong. You’re not the most pleasant person to deal with, you know.” This sort of thing happened all the time. Everything bad that happened was ALWAYS somehow my fault. That’s how narcissists invalidate your experience and diminish you at the same time.

Another version of the same thing is if you object to one of their insults, they will accuse you of being too sensitive or having no sense of humor.

“I really take offense to what you just said.”
Narcissist: “Well, it was only a JOKE! Lighten up.” (usually what they said was not meant to be a joke, so this is a lie).

Narcissists will never offer support, encouragement, or comfort. They seek to demean you by never taking your side, even when there’s no reason not to. They like to be contrary just to be contrary and “keep you in your place.”

I don’t need your damn fake apologies.

narc_apologies

My sociopathic ex was never sorry for anything. Oh, yes, he “apologized” sometimes, but it was only to get me to shut up or because he knew he’d already lost the argument or knew I was right (but he wasn’t really sorry.) It was insulting how stupid he must have thought I was to believe these “apologies” were sincere.

Unless they are incredibly good actors and are hoovering you (trying to reel you back in, like a Hoover vacuum sucks up dirt) or love-bombing you (stalking you as prey), no apology coming out of a narc’s mouth is going to sound sincere. Of course, it’s easy to fall for those “sincere” apologies when they’re feeling needy, but there are always other red flags you can look for, such as crowding you, moving too fast, or trash-talking all their exes (make no mistake, he or she will eventually trash-talk you too).

Once they have you trapped in their web of deception, a narcissist’s “apologies” are going to sound more like the following (if they even bother to apologize for anything at all). Some of them are actual “apologies” I got from my MN ex.

Gaslighting, projection and devaluation/invalidation are embedded in almost every narcissistic “apology,” as is lack of empathy. The “shut up” apology or the “I will not take responsibility for my actions” apologies are common too. All of them are represented here. So, without further ado, here’s a list of what you might hear.

Narcissist “Apologies”

bullshit

1. “I’m sorry, but you always get so hormonal and overreact to everything when you’re on the rag.” (invalidation; devaluation)

2. “I’m sorry you have no sense of humor.” (projection and gaslighting)

3. ” I’m sorry you overreact to everything I say.” (projection and gaslighting; devaluation)

4. “I’m sorry your family gave you such horrible examples of how to be a compassionate person and made you so self-centered and narcissistic.” (it’s true about my FOO but this is blatant projection!)

5. “I’m sorry, but I always talk loudly and you just take it the wrong way.” (denial of truth–it wasn’t that he was “too loud,” but that he was saying hateful things in an angry tone of voice).

6. “It’s your responsibility you feel hurt by that.” (a favorite of my mother’s)

7. “Your feelings are not my responsibility.” (this gives them carte blanche to say whatever they want)

8. “I’m sorry, but you are driving everyone here crazy with your constant whining.” (projection, gaslighting, possible triangulation)

9. “I’m sorry you are mentally unstable and can’t understand what I said.” (projection and gaslighting; there may be veiled sarcasm there too.)

10. “Alright, fine. I’m SORRY!!!!!!” (said sarcastically or in an angry tone of voice–this is the classic “shut up” apology)

11. “(HUGE sigh) I’m sorry. Are you happy now?” (another version of the “shut up” apology)

12. “I’m sorry but it’s not my problem.” (lack of empathy; taking no responsibility)

13. “I already apologized.” (said when they didn’t). Gaslighting and denying the truth.

14. “I’m sorry about arguing with you, BUT you started it.” (this may or may not be true, but they always have to take a jab at you anyway. Their apology feels hollow.)

15. “I’m sorry I forgot your birthday, BUT I had to be at that meeting. You know how important my job is.” (that job is more important than you, and he or she wants you to be aware of that).

16. “I’m sorry I hit you, BUT you deserved it.” (why even bother saying you’re sorry, asshat?)

17. “I’m sorry I got drunk and threw up all over you, BUT I told you to not let me have any more drinks.” (dead if you do, dead if you don’t–he would have handed you your head if you had actually told him not to have another drink).

18. “Apologies are for wusses, but whatever, fine, I’m sorry if that makes you happy.” (another “shut up” apology)

19. “I’m sorry you think I’m such a horrible person.” (guilt-tripping, possible projection)

20. “I’m sorry you hate everything I ever do for you.” (see #19)

21. I have no idea what I did to upset you, but whatever it was, I’m sorry. (They know damn well what they did and are trying to play “innocent” or “dumb.”)

22. “I’m sorry. Now get over it.” (a shut up apology)

23. “I’m sorry, but nobody’s perfect.” (this is just a cop-out apology; they are not taking responsbility)

I think we’ve heard enough of these. I feel kind of sick now. Their fake apologies are just another weapon narcissists can use to hurt you.

sincere_apologies
See the difference?

The “saintly” narcissist.

old-peasant-woman-by-paukla-modersohn-becker-1905
Old Peasant Woman by Paula Modersohn-Becker

Not all narcissists are aggressive. Some are covert, and some use their “goodness” as a weapon. This type of narcissist is usually a woman, often a mother. You know the drill: guilt tripping, “look at everything I’ve done for you,” “look what a wonderful person I am” (implying that you are not), ad nauseam.

I found this letter from a narcissistic mother on an NPD forum. It was an email sent by the forum member’s mother just before she went No Contact. If you read between the lines, this “nice” letter is actually very toxic. The names included in the letter (other family members) have been removed. I think ____ is a Golden Child sister. The recipient is the scapegoat.

Dear ___

I have never said that I expect you & _____ to pay my credit card after I’m gone.

Don’t know where you get all the wrong information. I want to make it clear to you that I say nice things about _____ to my friends as I talk about how good she is to me, never rags on me, we have so much fun together, like the same things, she finds time to spend with me, she has a kind heart and I love her very, very much!!!

You are my daughter and I love you too, but I don’t like how you have treated me all these years, you go out of your way to find fault with, always looking for things to be angry with.

Hope my friends tell all the nice things I say about you. How I appreciate how generous you have been. Paying for a 3 day cruise, buying a camera, cell phone and paying for it for 2 years, AND MOST OF ALL PAYING FOR THE ADOPTION of little _____.

These are some of the nice things you have done and I appreciate it very much.

You can’t say that you haven’t talked badly about me to your friends and family. Be honest now – I know for a fact you have said things about me, shame on you.

Why at the end of my life are you causing stress on your 85 year mother. If I had a 85 year Mother still alive, living alone, you can bet I would be caring and loving to my mother, but that’s me, not you.

Guess you will be happy when I am gone. You will get your wish some day.

The answers to my email about being embarrassed is a piece of CAKE!!!

You think you are always right and you are so wrong!! Oh well that’s (recipient’s name) for you.

Mom (the only Mom you will ever have)

old_woman_finger

So what do we have here? A nice letter from a sick, dying mother to her beloved daughter? No. We have several other things going on here though. So I’m going to pick this email apart and show you.

1. I have never said that I expect you & _____ to pay my credit card after I’m gone.

Very possibly gaslighting the recipient–denial that she ever asked her and her sister to pay her credit card.

2. Don’t know where you get all the wrong information.

Invalidation and possible gaslighting.

3. I want to make it clear to you that I say nice things about _____ to my friends as I talk about how good she is to me, never rags on me, we have so much fun together, like the same things, she finds time to spend with me, she has a kind heart and I love her very, very much!!!

Implying that the sibling is a better daughter than the recipient. Guilt-tripping.

4. You are my daughter and I love you too, but I don’t like how you have treated me all these years, you go out of your way to find fault with, always looking for things to be angry with.

Generalizing, gaslighting, probable projection of her own traits onto her daughter.

5. Hope my friends tell all the nice things I say about you. How I appreciate how generous you have been. Paying for a 3 day cruise, buying a camera, cell phone and paying for it for 2 years, AND MOST OF ALL PAYING FOR THE ADOPTION of little _____.
These are some of the nice things you have done and I appreciate it very much.

Now we have a little love-bombing or hoovering going on. This is a common ploy in covert narcissists like this woman to retain their source of supply. She is probably lying about telling her friends “nice things” about her daughter though, and she is also lying about “appreciating it.” Narcissists don’t appreciate anything.

6. You can’t say that you haven’t talked badly about me to your friends and family. Be honest now – I know for a fact you have said things about me, shame on you.

Back to the guilt-tripping and the shaming. The adult recipient is also being infantilized, another type of invalidation.

7. Why at the end of my life are you causing stress on your 85 year mother. If I had a 85 year Mother still alive, living alone, you can bet I would be caring and loving to my mother, but that’s me, not you.

Guess you will be happy when I am gone. You will get your wish some day.

She is basically telling her daughter, if I die it is all your fault. Major guilt tripping, which seems to be this mother’s primary M.O. to get what she wants.

8. The answers to my email about being embarrassed is a piece of CAKE!!!

I’m not sure what this means or what it’s referring to.

9. You think you are always right and you are so wrong!! Oh well that’s (recipient’s name) for you.

Projection and put downs.

10. Mom (the only Mom you will ever have)

Blatant guilt tripping. With a mother like this, thank your lucky stars she’s the only one.

What she says…what she really means.

narc_mother_glossary

Here’s a humorous narc-speak dictionary from Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. This is so true! Of course some of these phrases could be used by any narcissist who has their hooks in you, not just your mother, and can be “translated” the same way.

The Narcissistic Mother Dictionary

1. “I love you.”

Narcissistic-mother-ese:
I want to manipulate you.

You’re showing signs of breaking away and I want to suck you back in.

I’ve heard people say this and it seems to get a good reaction.

I command you to love me.

2. “Don’t ever feel like you HAVE to come see me for my birthday.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
If you don’t make the 650 mile pilgrimage to celebrate me, I promise I will do something to make you pay dearly.

3. “Go do something constructive.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
Be gone, I have no interest in my own children.

4. “You were an ‘accident.'”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
You are only here because homicide would get me jail time, and I thought you’d be a better slave, so I didn’t opt for adoption.

5. “You go have yourself a good cry!”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I resent your emotions, but at least I can use them to hurt you.

6. “I never said that!”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about!”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
Damned if I’m going to admit it.

Yes I said that but it doesn’t work in the conversation right now.

I know I said it but it’s so much fun to f*** with your head until you don’t know what is true and you think you really are crazy! Yeah me!!!

7. “It’s been a long time since I talked to you and I just called to see how you were doing.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I am running low on my Narcissistic Supply and need another fix.

I don’t care how you’re doing; I really just want to talk about me.

8. “You just aren’t remembering correctly.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
My version of events shows me in a better light, so that’s the official version.

narcissist_mothers_victim

9. “You never do anything for me!”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I know you’ve done a lot for me in the past, but that was then and it no longer counts. What have you done for me today?

10. “It’s time this stops.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
None of my ploys have worked to pull you back so now I will treat you like a child.

11. “I miss you.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I miss having control over you.

I’m lacking my Narcissistic Supply – please provide it pronto.

12. “Who have you been talking to? Who have you been in therapy with? what book did you read? etc, etc, etc….”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I’m not getting the usual emotional response from you and you are too dim-witted to have figured out how to shut me down on your own.

13. “Your brother and sister-in-law took us out to dinner last night. We had such a nice time – I don’t think we have ever been treated that well.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
You had better step up your game.

14. “I’m so proud of you”.

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
You have made me feel good and/or *I* feel good because of you.

I can take credit for that accomplishment.

15. “Why are you wasting your time on something so silly and that takes you away from your family?”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
Why are you wasting your time on something so silly and that takes you away from me?

16. “I want to help you with your kids.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I plan to interfere in the upbringing of your children by spoiling them, disciplining them differently to your way, and ignoring your decisions and wishes regarding them. I will not acknowledge your position and rights as the mother of these children. I may even steal them from you.

17. “Your father and I think …”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I think …

18. “So how are you?”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I’d better ask, but don’t worry I won’t really be listening. Or as soon as you say a trigger word, which reminds me of something else, I’ll interrupt and be off again!

I’m running out of things to boast to my friends about, so please come up with some accomplishments.

19. “I’m so sorry your beloved 14-year old dog died.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
Sigh … I’d better at least mention it, and let you talk for one, maybe two, sentences about your upset and grief, and then I can talk about myself again.

20. “You were very difficult to raise.”
“You were always my problem child.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
You resisted my attempts to violate your boundaries, abuse you and humiliate you.

21. “It’s so sad. I feel so sorry for them.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
It’s so exciting! I love being this close to tragedies!

22. “I’m sorry.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I will, on rare occasion, say the words but never change my behaviour.

Sigh, I’ll say it if it’ll stop you moaning, but don’t worry, I don’t mean it.

23. “Let’s just let go of the past.”
“Let’s just draw a line under it and get back to normal.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
Let’s pretend everything is ok and I’m not a nightmare of a mother so I can continue to torture you and get my Narcissistic Supply.

Let me play my narcissist’s game of never being held accountable for my behaviour.

24. “Your sister-in-law is such a great cook! Simply amazing!”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I want to take away any pleasure or pride you have in your own cooking skills.

25. “I just want you to love me.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
All I really want is for you give me my Narcissistic Supply.

26. “What’s wrong with you today? What is your problem?”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I’m pissed that you are denying me my much needed Narcissistic Supply. Damn you!

27. “Honestly, nothing ever pleases you, does it? Sigh.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
You have to let me treat you exactly as I please, without ever complaining.

28. “I was only trying to help!”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I demand the freedom to interfere in your life any time I want. That is my right!

joan_crawford

29. “What happened to the nice girl I once knew?”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
Why are you no longer the easily manipulated and uncomplaining-of-abuse girl I raised you to be?

30. “After all I’ve done for you! You’ve never appreciated me!”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
Wah wah wah I have violated your boundaries most of your life but even so I resent the hell out of your standing your ground and refusing to allow me to interfere, manipulate and control you.

31. “Why are you treating me so badly? What have I done wrong?”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I have the right to interfere in your life and abuse you without any consequences.

32. “Because I’m the Mama, that’s why!”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
You are really just a child, after all. I’ll never acknowledge that you are now an adult.

33. “I want to give you this because I love you.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
It’s really because you will then be beholden to me and this gives me great leverage to milk you for Narcissistic Supply.

34. “You’re always looking for insult.”
“You are so easily offended.”
“I have to walk on eggshells around you.”
“You’re over-sensitive.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I will not be held accountable for my actions and behaviours!

35. “I never want to be a burden to you.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I will over-run your life and suck the life force from you and your children.

36. “Have you lost some weight?”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I am so glad that I brought that sticky bun with me on this visit.

37. “You take me the wrong way.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I will invalidate your feelings as I have done your whole life.

38. “You’re such a good cook!”
“You’re such a good mother!”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
You got that from me!

39. “You don’t respect me!”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
You won’t let me abuse you.

40. “You won’t forgive me!”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
You won’t let me away with what I did, nor let me continue to trample all over you.

I expect forgiveness with no apology and no intention of doing differently in future.

41. “You need more time to think about it.”
“Well, have a think about it and get back to me.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I am not accepting your decision/opinion. Keep thinking until you come to the correct conclusion.

42. “I was just joking even if I did say and do that, which I didn’t.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
I did say/do it, and I did mean it, but damned if I’m going to acknowledge that.

43. “You just won’t admit when you’re wrong.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
You defended yourself from my lies!

44. “Here’s a gift.”

Narcissistic Mother-ese:
Here is something, very likely something I have no more use for, that I am officially giving to you. But it is still mine, and therefore I get to say, forever more, what you do with it. And woebetide you don’t appreciate it enough, over and over.