Narcissistic mothers never really change.

I started this blog over four years ago partly because of my discovery that I had been spending more than five decades of my life trying to please and win the unconditional love of a mother who simply wasn’t capable of giving me that kind of healthy love a normal parent has for a child.    Emotionally, I was still a child trying desperately to please a parent who could never be pleased, and in fact, resented me because of who I was.

I went No Contact with her at the same time I went No Contact with my malignant narcissist ex husband.  During the first two years of starting this blog, I wrote extensively about both of them, and learned so much about myself and also how to heal from the narcissistic abuse both of them had inflicted on me.

Distance made me think over a few things.    I also came to understand exactly what a malignant narcissist is, and after some time, I realized my mother is not one.    Malignant narcissism is a mixture of NPD and Antisocial Personality Disorder with paranoid or sadistic traits.   My mother, while highly narcissistic, is not at all antisocial or sadistic, but she does check off most of the criteria for NPD (narcissistic personality disorder).  She also fits much of the criteria for Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Unlike a malignant narcissist, my mother does have a conscience and knows the difference between right and wrong.  She doesn’t “think like a criminal” and would never do anything illegal.  She has a sense of ethics.   She’s not sadistic and doesn’t enjoy seeing people suffer.  She likes animals and children.  She doesn’t have much empathy, even for her loved ones, but she isn’t the sort of person who enjoys watching others suffer or tries to cause them suffering;  she is mainly just cold and indifferent to the troubles of others, and fails to take responsibility when she has emotionally hurt someone.

Even so, as a parent, she was still very damaging.   Along with my borderline/narcissistic dad, who also was an active alcoholic during most of my childhood and adolescence (addictive disorders and alcoholism tend to exacerbate Cluster B personality types), there was lots and lots of drama, instability, fighting, screaming, accusations, gaslighting, hiding the truth from others, and abuse both physical and emotional while I was growing up, and it was mostly directed at me.  Needless to say, my growing up years were painful and traumatic.  As the only child in their marriage, I was constantly scapegoated and gaslighted and held to impossible standards, the implication being that I was never good enough and could never measure up.

Things could have been worse, but the damage was done.   I never felt like a full adult, and my self esteem took a beating.  I came to believe I wasn’t capable of very much in life.  My high sensitivity was used against me, treated like a defect or a weakness, instead of something that would ultimately become one of my greatest strengths.  I never really found my niche career wise, and I married an abusive, sociopathic husband who in many ways mirrored the emotional abuse I had suffered at the hands of both my parents as a child.

I felt especially uncomfortable, impotent, and childlike whenever I was with my mother, and this lasted into my fifties.  I’m not sure why this was so.  Perhaps because of my parents, she was the more narcissistic one, the one who seemed to always disapprove of me no matter what I said or did.   She would constantly gaslight me, give me “left handed” compliments that were really criticisms, find ways to embarrass or shame me in front of others (and then say I was being too sensitive or “imagining things” when I objected to this treatment), or blame me for things that weren’t actually my fault.   She never seemed to empathize whenever I was victimized at work or bullied at school and would instead tell me why I was bringing those things upon myself.

Going No Contact with her was necessary and freeing, and as I wrote about our relationship, I discovered many things about myself I never knew.   I discovered that I was not the failure and loser she’d always led me to believe I was, but my emotional growth had been stunted.   Anger followed but that passed.  Once it passed, I started to realize she was who she was because of the abuse she had suffered as a child.    I didn’t want to resume contact, but the more I read about narcissism, the more I realized she was simply a garden variety narcissist (which in a parent, is still very bad!) and did not meet the criteria for Malignant Narcissism.

For four years I avoided her phone calls (after awhile she stopped calling) and only sent cards on her birthday and Christmas.   But one day a few months ago, I took a phone call from her.   I figured it must be important since she rarely tried to call me anymore.  After all, she’s in her late 80s and it could be an emergency I needed to know about.   So I took the call (it turned out to be something pretty unimportant, though I can’t remember the specific reason she called).  She might have just been love bombing me, though there’s no way to know for sure.

Rather than tell her I had to get off the phone (as I would have earlier in my recovery), I decided to find a neutral subject that wouldn’t lead to an argument and we might be able to find some common ground on (a kind of grey rocking).  Since I was so caught up in (and disturbed by) the Trump presidency, I sent this up as a trial balloon and asked her what she thought about the latest debacle (which at the time was the cruel child separation policy at the border).   Politically,  we’re on the same side, and like me, she is horrified by Trump and what’s happening to this country (this is another way I can tell she’s not a sociopathic or malignant narcissist).   So for about half an hour, we actually had a pleasant (well, if you can call a conversation about the current political situation pleasant) conversation without any arguments or putdowns or gaslighting.    For once, I didn’t feel like a defective five year old.  For perhaps the first time, I felt like she was treating me like a fellow adult capable of thinking for myself.  It felt good!   We spoke for almost an hour, and right before we hung up, she said something she had never said to me before.

She said, “I have really missed you.  I love you so much.  You are such a good person.”

“You are such a good person.”   Whoa!  That’s simply not something a narcissistic mother would say to her child.   Nothing about my external appearance or my financial status, social class, worldly “success” or lack thereof.    Not only that, she sounded sincere, almost on the verge of tears.  I began to think that perhaps, I had misjudged her, and she wasn’t actually a narcissist at all.  Maybe she was just a borderline or maybe she had changed with age and was no longer a narcissist.

I didn’t speak to her again for another few months, but I began to toy with the idea of cautiously breaking my No Contact rule and going Low Contact.    It took me a long time to call her again, but the night before last week’s election, I finally shored up the courage to give her a call.

I decided to use the impending election as a way to start the conversation, since politics had worked the last time.    And it’s true we agreed about who we wished to see win the midterms and how much we both hated Trump and the GOP.   But this time the conversation wasn’t the same.   It felt forced and tense.   She kept interrupting me to say I was being too negative and dwelling on negative things too much, just like the old days before I went No Contact.   She seemed to want to change the subject, and kept asking me personal questions about myself.  I talked to her a little about the kids (her grandchildren) but when she asked me about myself, I clammed up.  I felt like she was prying and I didn’t want to tell her about myself (not that there’s much to tell).    Then she started saying she wanted to come visit me in the spring.  I don’t want her to come visit in the spring, or at all.   Just like in the old days, I felt diminished, put down, like a defective five year old again.   I realized nothing had really changed at all.

But that begs the question, what had made her say, with tears evident in her voice no less, that  I was a ‘good person’?  That’s just not something you hear someone with NPD say.   She seemed to mean it; I don’t think it was love bombing (though it could have been).    Perhaps for a fairly low level narcissist who isn’t malignant (but is still dangerous to others due to their disorder), the clouds occasionally part and they can actually see things clearly, the way they really are, without lying to themselves or others about what they see.     Perhaps she envies the fact I care about others, and am politically involved, and while normally such qualities might make her resent me,  at that particular moment, her guard was down and she realized she actually admired those qualities in me.

I’m pretty sure that on some level, my mother does love me.  At least I know she means me no harm.  And I love her too; she is my mother, so how can I not?    But the truth is, she is still a narcissist, and I simply can’t have any kind of serious relationship with anyone on the narcissism spectrum, especially someone I have so much unresolved childhood baggage with.   So it looks like it’s going to be just us exchanging cards on birthdays and Christmas, and we’ll see what happens as far as any future conversations go.  I just know for my own mental health, staying Very Low Contact is best.

 

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Narcissistic abuse in Trumpistan.

Much has been written about Trump’s toxic psychology, specifically his malignant narcissism.  In spite of The Goldwater Rule (an agreement between mental health professionals to never diagnose someone they have not evaluated), so egregious is 45’s bad behavior that thousands of mental health professionals are breaking their own rule and speculating that he does indeed suffer from both Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Psychopathy/Antisocial Personality Disorder (the non-clinical term is “malignant narcissism” when both disorders appear together).

But the problem isn’t limited to Trump.  Our “president”  (I’m sorry, but I refuse to refer to him as president without adding scare quotes for irony) has surrounded himself with a cabinet full of people as entitled-acting and seemingly lacking in human empathy and devoid of conscience as he is.   If they are not sociopathic themselves, they are enabling cowards who keep making excuses for Trump’s horrible behavior and the toxic, abusive things he says.   Some seem like programmed robots with no minds of their own, and others actually seem terrified to ever criticize or disobey him.

As for Trump’s pathologically loyal supporters, they really do seem unreachable.   No amount of logic, facts, reason, or even appealing emotionally to their “better angels” seem to move them.   Like Manson’s young followers who continued to defend Manson’s evil behavior and insane beliefs even to the point where they were willing to murder on his behalf, to his supporters, Trump really could “shoot someone on 5th Avenue” and they would not budge from his side.    When presented with facts — even outright proof that their views are wrong — I’ve noticed a tendency for Trump supporters to double down on their pro-Trump beliefs (for example, if science has found that climate change is real, they will tell you that scientists are liars or are misinformed).   Much more so than his opponents, Trump supporters seem to resort to personal attacks or angry outbursts, and, when that fails, they will cut you off from further discussion, even blocking you on social media so they don’t have to engage with you further or have their views challenged.

There’s two other situations in which you see this unholy trinity of egotistic authoritarian leader, sociopathic or sycophantic lackeys and enablers, and followers who seem to have no ability to think or act for themselves:  in religious cults and in political dictatorships.   Trumpism resembles a cult, and in fact it is one.   Trump uses the same Machiavellian mind control tactics on his followers and those who carry out his bidding that cult leaders and dictators do.

I do believe we are being tested, and Trump is the logical conclusion of where we’ve been headed since at least the 1970s.   His election signals that we have reached rock bottom and are being forced to be accountable — or self-destruct.   If we are being tested, then it follows there is a solution, but it’s imperative that we do not allow ourselves to ever normalize what is happening or become so beaten down emotionally, mentally, and spiritually that we feel like there’s nothing we can do and succumb to the abuse — and yes, it is abuse.

The first step in fighting encroaching totalitarianism (let’s not mince words here because that’s exactly what this administration wants to install in place of democracy) is knowing the nature of the beast that threatens us, but to do that, we need to name it.

This is narcissistic abuse.   It’s just as incapacitating, soul-destroying, creativity crushing, sickness-engendering, trauma-inducing, and crazy-making as the kind wrought on us by malignantly narcissistic parents, teachers, “friends,” relatives, lovers, and spouses.

But it’s a lot worse than that.   It’s worse because it’s narcissistic abuse on a massive, nationwide, possibly worldwide scale.   Unlike a toxic family or workplace or marriage, it’s a lot harder to go No Contact when the leader of your country is an abuser.   In fact, going No Contact may not even be possible, should WWIII, enslavement, or internment in modern day concentration camps come to pass.  This is not hyperbole or conspiracy theory:   if things are allowed to continue the way they have been going since January,  a high-tech feudalism, modern day replay of Nazi Germany, or even a Christian Taliban with Old Testament law replacing the Constitution will be our new reality.

Because what we are enduring is narcissistic abuse writ large, the same terminology and lingo used by narcissistic abuse survivors to refer to abusive parents, coworkers, lovers, friends, bosses and spouses certainly applies here as well.

So I’m going to present some of these narcissistic abuse terms, define them for those who aren’t familiar with what they mean, and use examples of how they are being used by this administration in their attempts to control us, beat us down, and eventually destroy us.

Gaslighting.

Gaslighting is probably the most well-known term used by narcissistic abuse survivors, and can now be seen in many articles about Trump as well.   The term “gaslight” is taken from the 1942 psychological thriller of the same name, in which an abusive, sociopathic husband attempts to make his wife believe she is going insane by telling her she is imagining noises in the attic, the gaslights in the house going on and off by themselves, etc. when he is actually the one doing it without her knowledge.    Gaslighting someone is an insidious and cruel mind control technique intended to make the other person question their own observations and beliefs, and even reality itself.

Trump gaslights us all every day through his demonization of the press (it’s all “fake news” and journalists are “enemies of the people”),  liberals and Democrats, people who refuse to give him the worship he craves, and the truth itself, which he insists is a bunch of lies made up by the “lying media.”   Hitler did the same thing, calling the media “lugenpresse,” which literally means “fake news.”    He gaslights us by telling us that his abusive words and rhetoric are just “honesty” and that “political correctness” (avoiding abusive language and unfair policies) is the real evil that must be done away with.   The intention is to wear those of us who value the truth down mentally and emotionally, while at the same time normalizing and encouraging those who pacify him and believe or deny his lies.

Divide and Conquer.

Divide and Conquer is a technique in which a cult leader or other sociopath in a powerful position deliberately sets people or groups against one another, the end result being that once a large group is fighting among themselves, they are easier to control or unleash abuse on without them really being aware of what is really happening.

Divide and Conquer can be seen in this administration, in which Trump encourages aggressive and violent behavior by the supporters who attend his rallies against reporters, people of color, and non-supporters who disagree with Trump or his policies.

Language is a powerful tool and Trump uses it to divide and conquer.   Non-whites, Mexicans, Muslims, Democrats, and other groups Trump dislikes are dehumanized through language which normalizes aggression and violence against them.   “Rough them up,” he says when speaking about reporters, and then later defends himself by saying he’s “joking” (which is a form of gaslighting).    No other president has ever used language so destructively to deliberately encourage hatred and division, but it’s common among sociopaths and malignant narcissists like Trump.   It foments hatred among his supporters against “the Other,” and they begin to normalize aggression and violence, even acting out on it or threatening civil war against Trump’s enemies, since Trump seems to think it’s okay.    When a nation is divided in this manner, they are weakened and less unified, and thus easier to control and terrorize.

Projection.

Malignant narcissists have extremely fragile egos, and therefore cannot tolerate any criticism.  Deep inside they are actually painfully aware of where they fall short, but this will never enter their consciousness. Should you ever call them out on their faults, be prepared for them to retaliate against you or target you for abuse.    To defend against the knowledge of their own faults coming to awareness (thus destroying their image of themselves as perfect), they will project their worst traits onto others rather than admitting any fault in themselves.  The fact that they have an uncanny way of blaming others for the very things they themselves do indicates that subconsciously, they know where they fall short.

Trump’s projection onto others is most obvious in his tweets, in which he regularly blames others for things he himself is doing, or accuses others of having character traits he himself possesses.   Thus,  it’s others who are weak, who are obstructionists, who lie, who are “very bad people,” who are disloyal, who are not nice, or are “bad hombres” — never him.

Flying Monkeys.

Flying monkeys is another term borrowed from the movies — in this case, “The Wizard of Oz.”   When the Wicked Witch tried to keep Dorothy from getting to Oz by targeting her for torture and death, she enlisted the help of an army of flying monkeys to do her bidding.  At the end, after Dorothy accidentally killed the Witch, we finally found out the flying monkeys were really the Witch’s slaves and were actually grateful to Dorothy for freeing them.   In real life, flying monkeys may be lesser narcissists, or just normal but weak-willed people who are codependent to the abusive leader and become the leader’s enablers and cheerleaders.  Sometimes they are not aware they are being used as flying monkeys, especially if the leader has convinced them that the targeted person or group is the real enemy and they are the ones being victimized (see DARVO, below).

Trump uses his cabinet members, his family members, and his supporters, including the people who attend his rallies, as flying monkeys to normalize and defend his hateful rhetoric and policies that will hurt the rest of us, including the flying monkeys themselves, who seem like they’re brainwashed.   This was already discussed in the second paragraph of this post, so I won’t go into more detail here.

DARVO

DARVO is an acronym that stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.    It’s common for narcissists to deny saying or doing something, but then attack YOU for accusing them, thus making themselves out to be the victim, and YOU as the one who is doing the abusing.  It’s a form of both gaslighting and projection, with the added technique of feigning victimization to garner pity and support.

Trump is always playing the victim, complaining about how it’s always others who are obstructing him or lying about him, or who want to take him down.   One of the most infamous examples to date is when he addressed a graduating class of the Coast Guard and proceeded to whine about how he was the most persecuted politician in the history of our nation.   By making himself out to be the ultimate victim (and of course making everything about him and ruining these graduates’ special day), he also diminished the experiences of other politicians, war heroes, and former presidents who had suffered far worse.

Scapegoating.

This term is self-explanatory.  It comes from the field of family dynamics.  Malignant narcissists (and sometimes substance abusers such as alcoholics, who tend to have Cluster B disorders) almost always select a scapegoat to project the lion’s share of blame onto and thus the scapegoat becomes the designated carrier of toxic shame that the narcissist refuses to own.  In a family headed by one or more narcissistic parents, one child may be selected to be the family scapegoat.  That child is blamed for everything that goes wrong in the family, and is told repeatedly they are stupid, worthless, evil, ugly, crazy, or bad.  They are punished more than the other children, even when they did nothing wrong.  Their achievements are dismissed or even treated as something bad that must be punished. The scapegoat may also be bullied and abused by siblings, who act as the parent’s flying monkey(s).   A scapegoated child tends to enter adulthood with depression, low self esteem, a pervading sense of danger, and other psychological problems that tend to reinforce their role as scapegoats even as they move beyond the family.   Because scapegoats aren’t quick to defend themselves, are fearful and lack self esteem,  predatory personalities seem to be able to smell them out and proceed to dish further abuse and rejection on them.

Scapegoats are usually the most physically or emotionally vulnerable, the most sensitive, or most thoughtful individuals in a toxic family or other group, and/or they are the whistle-blowers or the truth-tellers who refuse to become flying monkeys or enablers of the narcissist.   Ironically, in a toxic family, they may be the most emotionally healthy individuals.   Malignant narcissist parents or other leaders wish to silence anyone who tells the truth or blows the whistle — or who is a constant reminder to them of how dangerous and toxic they really are.    Narcissists hate the “weak” and vulnerable, and they also hate those who tell the truth and expose them for what they are.     They may also scapegoat those who disagree with them or criticize them.

Every week, it seems that Trump has a new scapegoat.   While mainstream or liberal reporters and journalists (the truth tellers and whistle blowers) and groups of people who are not white, male and Christian seem to receive the lion’s share of his abuse and vilification, from week to week, Trump also targets a new individual — almost always someone who he perceives as being critical of him or obstructing his harebrained and wrongheaded policies.   Obama is a constant target, since his very existence threatens his fragile ego  (it’s obvious to me Trump hates Obama for having the temerity to be both more popular than he is and black), but he has also targeted Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and John McCain, as well as former and current insiders like Sean Spicer, Mitch McConnell, James Comey, and Jeff Sessions for abuse, which he usually metes out on Twitter.

Blame-Shifting.

Similar to projection and DARVO, blame-shifting is when a narcissist or sociopathic person refuses to accept or own blame and instead shifts responsibility onto someone else.    Malignant narcissists will never ever admit wrongdoing or say they’re sorry, because to do so is admission that they are less than perfect and that is intolerable to them.    The abusive husband who makes excuses for beating his wife (“she asked for it because of her nonstop nagging”) is shifting blame onto his wife instead of owning the fact that beating her was wrong.

Trump is constantly shifting blame to others.   Not once during his entire 8 months in office has he ever apologized or said he’s sorry for anything.   He’s made a lot of mistakes, some pretty terrible — but it’s always someone else’s fault.     When his unpopular and unconstitutional policies fail to pass, it’s never his fault — it’s always the “Obstructionist Dems,” Mitch McConnell, the “FAKE NEWS” lying to the people, or whoever the villain of the day happens to be.   He even makes excuses for the deplorable behavior of some of his white supremacist supporters, as he did when he said there was violence on both sides in Charlottesville — which there wasn’t.   In so doing, he also sent a clear signal to his white supremacist and neo-Nazi supporters that Trump was okay with their particular form of terrorism (running a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a young woman).

Splitting.

People with Cluster B disorders tend to think in terms of black-and-white, us-versus-them. There are NO shades of grey, NO mitigating circumstances, NO ambiguities.  If a malignant narcissist has decided you are “bad,” there is NOTHING good about you.  You might as well be Satan himself.   If you have been labeled crazy, you are a word salad blabbering lunatic fit to be put in a straitjacket and locked up in the loony bin until the day you die.    If you have been deemed an enemy, you can NEVER become a friend, nor do you have ANY redeeming qualities.   Since you will inevitably disappoint the malignant narcissist, eventually he will turn harshly against you.

This is called splitting, and Trump does it all the time.   Trump is incapable of seeing how complex people are, because he has zero insight into himself or any curiosity about human nature.   If someone insults him, they couldn’t just be having a bad day, because Trump lacks the empathy to be able to put himself in someone else’s shoes.   He would never consider that they might be right, either, because doing so would be intolerable to him.    Insult Trump and you become the Enemy — fair game for dehumanization, vilification, and retaliatory abuse.   There is no in between.  If you are not loyal to him, you are Other — and Other is always very bad.

Devalue and Discard (D&D)

After a period of love-bombing (see below), in which you are the most perfect, wonderful, loyal friend or ally ever (because to the narcissist, you are either ALL good or ALL bad),   you will inevitably (because you aren’t perfect) do or say something that hurts the narcissist’s feelings or causes him narcissistic injury.  Once that has happened, they will turn on you like a pit viper and will proceed to make your life hell.   In relationships, this may be the point at which the person who yesterday showered you with roses, candlelit dinners, and love letters now refuses to take your calls and blocks you on Facebook.

Trump has done this with many of his staff members, who were once confidantes and allies, and who he now attacks and vilifies because they failed to be “loyal” to him or were critical of him in some way. To Trump, other people are objects to be used or to provide narcissistic supply (worship and adulation), not imperfect human beings with both good and bad points.

Love-Bombing.

This is the initial phase of a relationship with a narcissist, in which you are the most perfect person in the world, but really you are just a mirror reflecting back to them what they want to see in themselves.  Once that image is tarnished (because you found fault with the narcissist), the abuse and/or devaluation begins.

Trump employed love-bombing during his campaign, when he made all kinds of promises that “only he” could fix.  He promised “healthcare for everybody” when his real agenda was to give a huge tax break to the wealthy while taking healthcare away from the most vulnerable, which included many of his own supporters.   He promised lots of new manufacturing jobs, a border wall that “the Mexicans would pay for,” and all sorts of other things that he had no intention — or capability — of turning into reality.  The only thing he’s kept his promise on is his neverending war on political correctness, but that’s turned into a war on anyone who dares criticize or question him.

Narcissistic Injury/Narcissistic Rage.

When you point out a narcissist’s faults or failures, he will enter a state of narcissistic injury — which means he is suffering a massive blow to his ego.  Most people, when hurt, have a healthy enough sense of self that they will deal with the emotional blow honestly — by talking about it, admitting their feelings were hurt, making a joke about it, or just telling themselves it really doesn’t matter and trying to move on from it.   But a malignant narcissist is incapable of making a joke or moving on or God forbid, admitting their own vulnerability.  Because their sense of self is so fragile (and is really just an overlay for the emptiness within), the only way they can feel good about themselves again is to attack you and deflect blame.   This is called narcissistic rage.   Narcissistic rage can take many forms:  gaslighting, outright verbal or physical abuse, threats, triangulation (secretly ganging up with others against the perpetrator), splitting, bullying, blame-shifting, deflecting, denial, the “silent treatment,” and D&D.

Trump displays many or even most of these behaviors whenever he perceives someone or some group has insulted him.   You can see it in his face and body language when he’s enraged.  His lips purse, his whole body goes stiff, and his eyes narrow and turn almost black with hatred and spite.   He’s frightening to look at when he’s in the midst of narcissistic rage, which is often.  I won’t list examples here because there are simply too many.   Trump is paranoid and constantly battling real or imagined enemies.   Eventually, everyone becomes an enemy to Trump.

False Self.

Narcissists have  a very fragile sense of self and feel empty inside.   To compensate, at an early age, they develop a “false self” — a kind of mask that shows others what they want you to believe they are.   If this mask is threatened or attacked in any way, they risk their “real self”  (the vulnerable and insecure child the mask hides) being exposed.   This is why you cannot criticize a narcissist. Rather than listen to you and agree you may have a point, they will  fight you to the death to maintain their image of perfection.    Being seen as vulnerable or defenseless is simply too frightening to them.   That’s one of the reasons they hate the vulnerable so much — people they perceive as “weak” fill them with shame of that which they need to hide.

A false self can take many forms, but for a classic or overt narcissist like Trump, it’s usually invulnerable and appears tough and self assured.   If the mask isn’t challenged, this type of narcissist can appear to be very competent and confident.   Some male narcissists, especially if they’re highly malignant like Trump, maintain a mask of toxic masculinity.   Trump admires dictators and “strongmen” types like Vladimir Putin.  He admires authoritarianism and political tactics that intimidate, terrorize, and oppress vulnerable populations.   I don’t know the details of Trump’s early childhood, but I’ve heard his father was emotionally abusive and empathy and kindness were not qualities he valued in a male child.  Only financial and material success were valued and rewarded.    I wouldn’t doubt it if Trump’s desire to please such a difficult and unloving father is at the root of his narcissism and the “strongman” style of his false self.

Fear-Mongering.

Narcissists and sociopaths, in order to gain control over others, often resort to instilling fear and even terror in their subjects.   Cult leaders, some religious leaders (especially fundamentalist leaders, whether Christian or Muslim), and dictators (as well as abusive husbands and mean bosses) are all known for this.   They threaten and bully.   They demand obedience and “loyalty” — or else.   They believe their bullying behavior makes them seem strong and invincible, but anyone who needs to resort to threats and schoolyard bully tactics to get cooperation and support is pathetically weak in character and devoid of any real strength.

Trump bullies others and makes veiled threats against his opponents all the time on Twitter.   He demands loyalty and calls people names.   Many of his staff members seem intimidated by him and almost afraid to be honest or do the right thing.    I sometimes wonder what he has threatened them with if they fail to cooperate.

Worst of all, Trump also tacitly encourages bullying behavior by his supporters against his opponents by failing to criticize their violent actions adequately or at all (Charlottesville), and by “jokingly” encouraging terrorist-type behavior and violence against his detractors at his rallies.   But Trump is not joking.  He is quite serious.  Malignant narcissists are incapable of any real humor.

Obfuscation/deflection.

Another tactic malignant narcissists use to deflect blame or avoid responsibility is obfuscating — confusing the issue or creating chaos.   Trump does this in a variety of ways, but all are intended to instigate chaos or create a new crisis that serves to obfuscate (hide) something he wants to deflect attention away from (such as the Russia investigation).   Every day, some new drama comes out of this White House.   Every day, he’s fighting with someone else, threatening someone, or someone else has quit or been fired.  It’s like a reality show from hell.

All the constant drama is intended to create chaos and confusion, and keep both his opponents and supporters off balance.   Leaders like this can be extremely dangerous because they are likely to incite something serious (like nuclear war with North Korea) in order to deflect negative attention away from themselves and their dishonest, unethical, or illegal activities. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care for the idea of being nuked because a petty and childish old man’s ego was wounded.

Another way narcissists obfuscate is through a special kind of “word salad” in which nothing they say makes any sense, although on the surface it may seem to.   They leave you feeling confused and scratching your head, wondering what the hell they really meant by what they just said.   Of course, if you question them or force them to make their message more clear, they will blame YOU — for being stupid or not understanding.

Guest post #9: You are beautiful and loveable no matter what the narc says.

Mel (Hippo 256) writes a blog called The Enability Blog about living with a number of disabilities, including PTSD. I’ll just let Mel’s About Page speak for itself:

Hi there, thank you for reading my blog. I really appreciate you’re taking the time. I’m a female and 21 years old. I love languages and study (amongst other things) English, Dutch, German and French (want to do Spanish someday too). I’ve got a couple of chronic diseases and disabilities, but you’ll find out more about that when you’re reading my blog. It’s too many to just sum up, but I can give away that I have chronic pain, chronic fatigue, rheumatism (fibromyalgia) and some other physical diseases and disabilities. I also have been diagnosed with PTSD.

I live together with my boyfriend/partner (my fellow Hippo), who’s also physically disabled, including a couple chronic diseases and a recurring depression. He supports me a lot, because he can really understand what I’m feeling. Together we tackle life’s challenges and hopefully enjoy life too (I can tell you, I often do enjoy life). We are both studying, but do this in a slightly different way. We can’t follow the regular pace, but that doesn’t matter. I also enjoy sports, photography (sadly, I can’t place my own photos here because of my anonymity), doing nice things with friends, travelling, animals etc.

Please visit Mel’s blog when you get the chance.
https://enabilityblog.wordpress.com

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL AND LOVEABLE NO MATTER WHAT THE NARC AND HIS ‘PEOPLE’ SAY!

center-of-attention

I’ve been doubting if I should write a post about narcissistic abuse. Not because I don’t want to help other people and I’m also very grateful for this opportunity. I was hesitant because of two reasons:

(1) You ‘just’ don’t talk about a subject like this. There’s a huge stigma on it. A lot of people seem unwilling to think about it and therefore put it away as ‘nonsense’. And people can be misunderstanding or harsh about a topic so sensitive. I learned my lessons and usually evade it. (2). I don’t think I’m good enough. I’m not a writer or a blogger, I just type whatever comes into my head, without really thinking about it.

But here I am, happy that I took this wonderful opportunity. Because:

(1) I find the people in this blogging community to be so understanding and willing to listen. I want to battle the stigma and help others. I wish I had read all these posts about narcissistic abuse and PTSD so much earlier, it would have saved me a lot of self-doubt.
(2) That idea, that feeling of mine that I’m not good enough (I never am) is one of those thoughts ‘implanted’ in me because of narcissistic abuse. I couldn’t think of a better way to ‘challenge’ one of the thoughts the narcissists had about me.

Both my partner and I have been abused by narcissists. But I feel the urge to talk about a very specific one, one I can’t talk about with anyone except with my partner. I’ve been mentally, physically and sexually abused by one “man” for about 6 months. I’ve never written about this before, so this post will be like an “introduction” to my story.

Love Bombing.
At first glance I knew: ‘I have to stay away from him’. We went to the same school together, I was 18 and he was 21. At first he didn’t seem interested in me, to the contrary. I was clearly not good enough to be allowed to communicate with him (he would happily let everyone know). Luckily, I didn’t want to have anything to do with him either. I really don’t like ‘those kind’ of people. At the time, I was still in a very difficult situation. I was already abused many times before and didn’t have anyone at the time. I was looking for support. And narcissists know that. One day, he started preying on me. Immediately I knew, I felt it. But I am strong and had nothing to fear, so I thought. This wasn’t about me, it was about him. He always got what he wanted and he wanted me, I was suddenly ‘pretty’ or ‘sexy’ or ‘interesting’. He would follow me after school, get my contact information through his many channels and he kept cornering me. I told him many times that I wasn’t interested in a relationship, which was not what he wanted to hear. But then one time his reaction and whole attitude changed. He seemed concerned, caring. He would tell me that I deserved to be in a relationship with someone who wanted to help me. I felt anxious and somehow said I was sexual abused before and therefore didn’t want a relationship or intimacy. That made him go all loose on the ‘caring act’. He wasn’t like that, he wanted to help me, truly. I could trust him. Why wouldn’t we just try it out? I could always say no to things and he would listen to that. I was so anxious and confused that eventually I said yes. Now I know that these are all common tricks for narcissists.

wolf_in_sheeps_clothing (1)

The Narc’s True Colors Come Out.
What followed was 2.5 months of ‘relationship’. He played so many (mind) games with me. And I actually knew. So soon I knew that this wasn’t right at all. It felt so wrong and I was so confused. Even though he would keep saying things like ‘it’s to help you’. Or he would be angry because I clearly didn’t love him enough (otherwise I would do that for him, even though that would cross my border). He would threaten me, or hurt me. I couldn’t escape. He had people everywhere (seriously, he did). Eventually I found the strength to break up and thought I was over his horrible abuse. But I wasn’t. He told me that I was nothing and that I should have been happy that he made me something: I was his slave (yes he would call me this, amongst other things). Which made me worth more than I was before. Those kind of sick things he would say. He abused me about 4 months straight after we ‘broke up’. “Friends with benefits” he would call it. I wasn’t a prostitute he said, you know why? I didn’t get paid, so that shows how bad I was. He wouldn’t pay for me, he never paid for anyone. I wasn’t the first “girlfriend” he had. All girls without (good) sexual experiences, so he could mold them, ‘train’ them. But he never kept anyone for long.
Eventually, I met my partner at (the same) school. I had a panic attack and he reached out to me. Because of his support and protection, I could eventually stop my abuser. The abuser has visited my school and the place where I lived a few times. To threaten me. But now, it’s all so much better.

Aftermath.
Going no contact with the abuser was very difficult for me. I found it very surprising, but now I know it is a common reaction amongst survivors. Once in a while I would get ‘urges’ to send him a message again. I kept hoping he would understand that he did awful, horrible, unspeakable and bad things to me. I hoped he would stop telling everyone what a liar I was and that we just loved doing S&M together (massive lie). He never acknowledged it. Now I know he never will. Narcissists don’t feel for others or think about others.

You Are Not Alone!
I want you all to know that you’re not alone. You’re not ‘stupid’ if these kind of things happened to you or ‘easy to get’. And there still is love, even for you. I often call my partner my saviour. He has helped me tremendously in my healing progress. Explained all these thoughts the abuser planted in my head, all the false things I believed. I wish everyone can find this kind of support. We all deserve that. Blogs can help us with that too.

After the abuse ended, this one thought kept appearing: How could I have let this happen? Now I know that’s not fair, I fought incredibly hard. I should never blame myself for this. Maybe I fought too hard, since it only caused me so much more pain and trouble (because of punishments and angering the abuser). This whole situation is incredibly complicated, so a lot of people misunderstand. Especially because I kept a mask on to the outside world (as I was forced to). But it is so important to know that a narcissistic relationship isn’t your fault. It can happen to anyone, really. And not going to the police, doesn’t make your story not true, or if you went to the police but the abuser was never officially found guilty. The justice system isn’t made to catch rapists and abusers. Believe in yourself. Somewhere, deep inside, you know when something doesn’t quite feel right. I know I always did, but would often ignore my core feelings. After doing research on the internet (mainly reading blogs) and talking with my partner, I also understand the things I did a lot more. There were signs everywhere.

I would like to end this blogpost with something important to me. Another thought I refuse to believe any longer. I am NOT a whore. And you aren’t either. We deserve to be loved, including by ourselves. Be kind for yourself please, your body and mind need you.”

– Mel (Hippo256)
Enability Blog, 2016

The Mockery of Mimicry

Narcissists are bar none at mimicry. That’s why they can seem so good at so many things, and also why they seem so “understanding” when you’ve fallen under their spell.  They have been watching you, cataloging your ideals, values, loves and hates in their minds as if they share them with you.  During the love-bombing phase, they seem to be the soulmate you’ve been searching for…and you believe them because they are such good actors.

But there’s a dark, very dark side, to their ability to mimic, when they begin to devalue you….my MN ex was a master at this sort of mimicry, so this post was quite triggering.

I’m reminded of the brilliant song Liar by Henry Rollins.

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Knowing the Narcissist

I love to copy. I have to copy. It is all I have known for as long as I can remember. It is my natural setting to mimic those around me. I have to fit in, I have to belong and the most effective way for me to achieve this is to replicate everything that I come into contact with. If I interact with an esteemed academic I will listen to his or her achievements and then pass those off as my own as I peel away their glittering accolades and apply them to myself. Should I spend time with an exceptional sporting individual then their record-breaking endeavours will be purloined for my benefit and sported as my own in furtherance of my own belief in my exceptional ability. Author? Yes I have written books too. Model? Yes I do some modelling from time to time. Chef? You should try…

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“No one will ever love you like I do”: NPD men in love.

narc_heart

With Valentines Day coming up in a few days, I think it’s time to talk about narcissistic men in love.   I think I have enough experience with such men to be able to write about them and talk about some of the red flags to look for in a new relationship.

Narcissistic men can make the most ardent lovers and define the cliche, “he swept me off my feet.”  Relationships with narcissistic men, in the beginning, can be truly fairy-tale like, and a narc man who’s chosen you as his prey will stop at nothing to make sure you know he’s the most romantic, giving, attentive, unselfish, committed man you’ve ever met.   He’ll profess his eternal love for you, wine and dine you, present you with expensive chocolates and roses,  never forget your birthday or Valentines Day,  take you on weekend getaways to romantic locations,  and talk about marriage and even “making babies with you” early in the relationship.   Narcissistic men can be intense and women who are drawn to emotionally intense relationships (often Borderlines)  are like putty in their hands.  Narcissistic men are often drawn to BPD women too, because a BPD woman is most likely to give them exactly what they need, at least in the beginning.   Occasionally, a narcissist man who has proposed to you might actually stay true to his word and marry you.  But that doesn’t mean you’ll live happily ever after–anything but, in fact.

An NPD man’s intensity, which can be incredibly alluring to certain types of women, is exactly what makes them so dangerous.  Their “love” for you is feigned.  They are not capable of love.   They are predators.  All you are to them is supply.  Every last one of my lovers, including my ex-husband, was a narcissist, and almost all of them seemed incredibly romantic.   A couple of them eventually D&D’d me (devalue and discard), with no explanation or reason, shattering my heart into a million bits, while others became increasingly possessive to the point where I felt like I was suffocating and couldn’t wait to get away.

One of two of these narc men were covert, but most of the ones I knew were more the overt, grandiose type. Pretty much all my relationships with men followed this same sorry pattern, which I am going to outline for you.

The storybook romance.

inlove

The narcissist is very insistent about getting to know you, and wastes no time making his first date with you.  You will notice how intensely he gazes at you and that can make you want to swoon, but make no mistake–it’s really the look of a predator stalking his next meal.

He takes you out to an intimate, expensive restaurant and buys you anything you want on the menu, no matter how expensive.  Typically, he’ll offer you bites of food from his own plate, sometimes feeding you.    (He’s luring you in, setting you up for the kill later on).

He calls you daily, always seems to have time for you, seems like the most romantic, understanding, sympathetic man you’ve ever known.  He always listens to your problems, and seems to empathize.  (He is anything but these things, but he is a very good actor).

He is always buying you gifts, sometimes very expensive ones.  He can seem like the most generous man on the planet.  (Keep an eye on your finances here–mine bought all those gifts for me using MY credit card).

He tells you he loves you early in the relationship, maybe even in the first few weeks.  He may even get tears in his eyes while he tells you this (blech).  He might tell you you’re the only woman he’s ever loved, and how lonely he was before he met you.  (WATCH OUT.)

Sex with him is emotional and intense.   (Oh, honey, he’s got you trapped in his lair now).

He begins to complain and berate his former girlfriends, and talks about how deeply they’ve all hurt him (right, because nothing is ever his fault).   If he never seems to take any responsibility for the demise of his former relationships (or if he’s the type that gloats about how HE dumped THEM), that’s a huge red flag.  Don’t ignore it.  He’s telling you something.

He may propose to you at this point, or talk about what beautiful babies you’d have together (any man who doesn’t really seem to like children, but still wants to “have babies with you” because the combination of your genes would be “so beautiful” is almost certainly a narcissist).  Blargh.

The narc begins to show his true colors. 

hoovering

At this point, he may suddenly start seeming colder or pulling away.  He stops calling you as often, or seems annoyed when you call him, giving you some vague reason why he’s “too busy” to see you or scolding you for bothering him when he’s in the middle of an important meeting.   This is the beginning of the discard, which means that you’ve sated his supply and he’s grown bored.   He needs the challenge of the hunt again, and will probably dump you soon.  There is nothing more he needs from you.

Other narcissists tighten their hold on you.  If he senses you beginning to pull away, he’ll up the ante and take you on vacation or bring you roses every night.  This is called “hoovering.”  He’s sucking you back into his den of doom like a Hoover vacuum cleaner.   Most likely you will fall for it, and once you’ve reassured him you still adore him and think he’s the smartest, handsomest, sexiest man you’ve ever known,  the abusive behavior begins.

The dream becomes a nightmare.

brokenhearted

If the narcissistic man you’re in love with doesn’t D&D you, then it’s common for them to begin to abuse you once he’s certain you will stay.  Often, this begins on your wedding night, when it’s too late for you to escape without enormous expense and inconvenience.   I don’t have to go into the various forms of abuse he could use–they could be mental, financial, emotional, and sometimes physical.   The man who seemed like the most understanding, romantic, empathetic, attentive man you’d ever known has transformed into a coldblooded, unfeeling, abusive monster.

Early red flags.

red_flag

There are many red flags I haven’t listed here, but the following tend to be the first ones you’ll notice before any real abuse begins.

  • He complains about his exes and seems to blame them for everything that went wrong in their relationship, without ever admitting anything was his fault.
  • He moves in too fast, declares his love or proposes marriage too quickly for your comfort
  • His intense look unsettles you a little.
  • He has mysterious “meetings,” friends and “family matters” that he doesn’t discuss with you or seems annoyed when you ask about them.
  • After seeming to want to be with you all the time, he suddenly seems to lose interest in you, and never explains why.  If you try to pin him down, he becomes angry or irritated.
  • He’s always talking about what a perfect couple you are or how beautiful the two of you look together, sometimes even wanting to look at both of you together in the mirror.
  • The intensity of his ardor or attention overwhelms, scares or disgusts you.
  • He brags about how many women have fallen in love with him (overt N).
  • He moans about how no other woman has ever loved him (covert N).
  • He begins to question your whereabouts or why you don’t spend more time with him.
  • He accuses you of looking at or flirting with other men.
  • He uses tears to get sympathy or get his way.
  • He likes to play cruel jokes on you, just for fun of course.
  • He acts jealous or seems upset when you want to spend time doing anything that doesn’t include him.

Further reading:

The Narcissistic Lover’s Playbook

All My Narcissistic Lovers

Narcissist Man in Love

 

 

 

 

The N vibes are strong with this one.

wolf-cartoon

A few weeks ago I did some work for my landlord, clearing out one of his properties where the tenants were being evicted so he could get it ready to sell. The landlord is craggily attractive, about my age. He told me he is divorcing his wife. He didn’t say why, and I didn’t ask. I felt embarrassed when he told me this. I really didn’t want to know why. At first I didn’t connect this news with his recruiting of me to help him clear out one of his properties.

I got paid well to help him clean up the place, which was a disaster. The first day I wore a Hazmat suit (due to meth dust and dog fleas). The second day I wore skinny jeans and a tank top. He complimented me on the dragonfly tattoo on the back of my right shoulder.

He didn’t touch me but I noticed the way he kept looking at me, like a dog looks at bowl of food. I didn’t have a problem, in fact I barely registered this. Otherwise, he was perfectly fine. He didn’t try to touch me or make suggestive remarks. We actually had a good time clearing out the place.

He took me out to lunch while the flea bombs were working, an expensive place with excellent Greek and Italian food.

I didn’t hear from him again until this morning. When I saw his name on my phone, I assumed it was about the rent, part of which is late again. But the text said he liked the outfit I wore the last time we worked together, and could I please text him a photo of me in it.
I did not reply to this text.

I know this guy’s a player and probably a narc too. I get strong narcvibes from him. Especially because he’s flirting with me before he’s even divorced. But I don’t want to get on his bad side, because I don’t want to lose my apartment! When your landlord begins to flirt with you, things can get pretty dicey.

I’ve had enough experience dealing with narcissists and am pretty well educated about them too. If he’s really just love bombing me because he sees me as good potential supply, I think I know how to disarm him without angering him: appeal to his ego, while at the same time making the rejection MY fault, putting no responsibility on him. Like a razor blade wrapped in a sugar cube. He’d barely register that it’s a rejection at all. I’d say something like, “I’m really flattered you liked my outfit that day, but I was in an abusive relationship for years and am not over it yet. I’m still just trying to work on myself, find out who I am. I do find you attractive (that would not be a lie, because he is) but right now, I couldn’t handle anything more than just friendship. I’ll be happy to be your friend, but that’s all I can be right now. Besides, you’re not divorced yet. Wait until that happens and then we can talk about this more.” I still have no problem doing work for him should he ask again.

I would not be leading him on or saying anything that would cause narcissistic injury (assuming he is a narcissist at all). It’s also leaving a window of opportunity open, on the off chance that in the future I find he’s not a narcissist at all and someone who might actually be good for me.

Narcissist man in love.

rumi-lion

One of my narcissistic lovers was a man I’ll call Daniel. I met him during my divorce proceedings. It was a short lived but intense relationship. As short lived as it was (it lasted all of 3 months), I decided to go into more detail about this particular relationship because of all my narcissistic lovers, Daniel was the most classic (and possibly the most malignant) textbook example of the course of a typical relationship with one.

Daniel was actually as bad a malignant narcissist as my ex, but of course I didn’t know it at the time. I met him while I was still married but the marriage was, for all intents and purposes, already over and we were separated. Daniel had that intense predatory stare, which I took to mean sexual and romantic interest, but it was really his way of sizing up me as prey.

I met Daniel at work. He was several years younger than me. I had been training him, and our eyes kept drifting to each other. He wasn’t the fastest learner but he seemed very friendly and always pulled his chair as close to mine during training as he could. Because I found him so attractive with his large liquid brown eyes, long eyelashes, and curly dark hair with its hints of gray, I didn’t mind the close physical proximity. I still remember the way he smelled–clean, like soap and shampoo, with a hint of muskiness.

Daniel became irresistably attractive to me. Narcs have a way of doing that to people like me. Although not all that intelligent, Daniel was actually a cerebral narcissist who had very little interest in sex after the initial physical passion of the first month or so. He thought of himself as very smart and after a while his know-it-allness became all too apparent.

Not long after meeting, Daniel approached me on break and told me he found me beautiful and kind and he’d like to take me out to dinner. Of course I said yes. That evening I went home walking on air and found my sexiest dress to wear. He picked me up on time, armed with a bouquet of red roses. We had a nice dinner and Daniel was attentive and romantic, gazing into my eyes, holding my hand across the candlelit table, and constantly telling me how beautiful I was and that he couldn’t believe my husband didn’t appreciate me more.

After dinner we went back to his apartment and he just held me and kept gazing into my eyes and telling me over and over how beautiful I was. He closed his eyes when kissing me. He didn’t push for sex and even said he wanted to wait until I was ready. He was perfect! I felt sexy and needed. At times when declaring his undying love for me, his eyes even got a little damp which I took to mean he was overcome with emotion and his feelings for me. This “vulnerability” I perceived made me fall harder for him. I couldn’t believe anyone could love me this much. He made me feel so special. I didn’t know it yet but I was falling into a yet another narcissistic predator’s trap. I should have suspected something fishy when he didn’t bat an eyelash when I told him I was still legally married, even though separated from my husband at the time.

We made love on our 3rd or 4th date and he told me he loved me and then held me all night as we drifted into sleep. For about two weeks I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. We couldn’t get enough of each other and would spend every free moment making love. It was all so magical I hadn’t even noticed he’d stopped taking me out or spending money on me. His abuse had already started but was so well-camouflaged by his physical ardor that I couldn’t see it.

love_bombing

Two weeks after we started dating he told me he wanted to marry me. He didn’t have a ring to give me, but promised he would get one later, when he had the money. (He had the money–the guy was living on a trust fund left him by his wealthy parents and had bought his expensive apartment and he was always buying himself expensive toys). The funny thing was that I never actually said yes to his proposal. I told him I’d have to think about it, although a part of me wanted to scream “YES” from the rooftops. Something–I wasn’t sure what–was holding me back from accepting his proposal. He kept talking about how he wanted to make me pregnant (I was 42 years old) and how beautiful our children would be. He even told me he wanted to see me give birth. But I noticed whenever we were in public together, he seemed annoyed by any children who happened to be around and complained about parents who “couldn’t discipline their children properly.” He also criticized my parenting skills, telling me I let my kids “control me,” even though he’d never met them or seen me interact with them.

Daniel complained about his ex lovers, and although in his late thirties, he had never been married. He told me terrible stories about the women he had dated and how they had all been cheating whores, heartless Jezebels, or how unattractive, stupid, or crazy they were. He told me the most intimate details about them–one woman had a “smelly vagina” and another had acne all over her backside. Another had been in a mental hospital and embarrassed him in public with her crazy outbursts. I didn’t want to hear these details but he assured me I was perfect and different from all those other women.

After a few more weeks I noticed Daniel seemed to be easily bored and prone to fits of unreasonable rage. His rage toward others around us began to turn toward me, and he started to become very critical and controlling. He had stopped buying me things, but one day told me he was taking me to Victoria’s Secret to buy some new lingerie because he thought mine looked frayed and ill-fitting. Of course I was thrilled to be taken shopping, and when in the store, began to pick items I liked. I found a black satin teddy with lace trim and he grabbed it from my hands and put it back, saying “I don’t like that color on you. It makes you look too pale.” He seemed to be getting impatient with me in the store and disapproved of anything I pulled from the rack. Finally he made his own choice, and insisted on buying that for me, even though I wasn’t impressed with his choice. We drove back to his apartment in silence. He seemed so angry but I couldn’t figure out why. I noticed his road rage too–he seemed to get impatient with other drivers easily but was constantly cutting off and tailgating people himself. If I told him to take it easy with his driving, he would get even madder and tell me I was trying to control him.

The night after the shopping spree, he said he didn’t want to have sex because he was too tired. I took this at face value and figured he was just in a bad mood and would be over it the next day. But he had changed. Or actually, he hadn’t changed–but was now beginning to show his true colors. Whenever I tried to initiate lovemaking or even touching, he began to pull away, making excuses that he didn’t feel well or was too tired. When we did have sex, it felt rushed, as if he wanted to get it over with. He stopped telling me he loved me.

One night he received a phone call from an old girlfriend and spent two hours on the phone with her while I pretended to read. I wasn’t really jealous, but was annoyed and found it strange that this was the same woman he had told me was crazy. I asked him about that and he got enraged, telling me to mind my own f–ing business.

Daniel liked to travel around the country and never once asked me if I wanted to go. He’d always announce these trips a day or two before he was set to leave. He’d always return with shopping bags full of goodies–for himself. His idea of “gifts” to me were the freebies they give out in hotels–tiny bars of soap, shampoo, or dollar keychains or even hotel “Do Not Disturb” signs. Once he brought back some homemade fudge and I asked him for a piece of it. He said no.

The silent treatments and verbal abuse became nearly constant. I felt like I was walking on eggshells and it seemed I could do nothing right. Once I asked him why he never wanted to kiss me anymore and he said it was because of my breath. (No one had ever accused me of having bad breath and I even tested it by blowing on my daughter’s face and she said it was fine). I remembered the woman he’d dated who had a “smelly vagina” and realized that he would be telling some future lover (because at this point I wanted to break up with him) about my horrible, stinky breath and “controlling” ways.

He seemed to hate me, but also became upset and angry when I told him I wanted to spend time with my kids (who were living with their father for a short time during the divorce proceedings). He told me they were spoiled brats who would grow up to be criminals because I always gave into their wishes. I know now he was jealous of them. He always wanted me around, but was always so mean. I was always short on cash because I didn’t earn that much but he didn’t seem to care. Once I needed some gas money and he said no, even though he had stacks of $100 bills all over his apartment and in drawers.

We broke up on my birthday. He had come to my house late, and his gift to me was a “Toonces the Driving Cat” coffee mug. Although he obviously didn’t pay much for it, I thought it was a thoughtful gift (for him) because he knew I loved that old skit from Saturday Night Live. He took me out to dinner, which had become a rarity. He was very rude to the wait staff, but he always had been (that’s another red flag to look for–narcissists are notoriously rude to service personnel).

Shortly after we got back to my house, we got into an argument and he shoved me so I fell onto the couch. That was the first time his abuse had become physical. I knew it was a matter of time before he would start hitting me. I told him I would not tolerate physical violence and he started making fun of me for being such a baby about a “little push.” We kept arguing. He told me to give him back the mug he gave me. I told him no, because it was a gift and I liked it. He insisted.

I went and fetched the mug from the kitchen, and brought it to him, sweetly saying “here,” before smashing it on the floor as he reached for it. He stood there staring at the shattered remnants on the floor and then looked up at me with his mouth hanging open, said “You’re too crazy and too violent for me,” and stormed out the door, slamming it behind him. Me? Violent? I didn’t realize he was projecting his own violent tendencies onto me.

soulmate

A week later I found out I was pregnant. I called him to tell him I needed money for an abortion. He said he would not help because there was no way it was his! This from the man who a month earlier had told me he wanted to watch me give birth.

Fortunately, I never had to have an abortion because a week after that I miscarried. Daniel kept calling me, acting as if nothing had happened, and would tell me all about his life, never asking how mine was going. He acted like we were best friends. He even told me about a woman he was dating who was “perfect for him,” with no thought given to my feelings about this. Of course I really didn’t care and just felt sorry for the poor woman who didn’t know what she was in for yet. I wondered what he was telling her about me. Probably that I was insane, violent and a bad mother who had terrible breath.

I’d listen patiently to Daniel ramble on and then tell him I had to go. After about six months of his weekly phone calls, I finally worked up the courage to tell him to leave me alone and never call me again. I also blocked his number. That was the best choice I made in that relationship.

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.

All my narcissistic lovers.

johann_heinrich

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

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

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

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

narcjoke

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

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

new_wave_guy

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

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

rottencard

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

ucallthislove

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

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