Five types of gaslighting narcissists.

Lucky Otters Haven

Gaslight-2

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

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

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Narcissists are rude to servicepeople.

An older post about a common narcissistic red flag that is rarely mentioned.

Lucky Otters Haven

rude_people

I want to talk about a little-mentioned red flag, but one of the easiest ones to spot early in a relationship. Most narcissists are rude to servicepeople and others they see as beneath them. My ex was notoriously rude to servicepeople, always screaming at customer service people, even if the problem wasn’t their fault. He was also rude to wait staff in restaurants, to the point it was embarrassing going out to dinner with him. He was unreasonably demanding, condescending, and treated wait staff as if they were mentally deficient. With attractive female wait staff, his rudeness was of a sexual character–he openly flirted with young waitresses, even though I was watching. I think he did this because he knew it would bother me.  He also did it because he knew his target was a sitting duck and might be fired or reprimanded if she objected to the flirtatious behavior…

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Narcissist parents demonize their own children.

Originally posted on March 17, 2015

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

Not for narcissistic parents though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The navy blue dress.

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

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

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

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

weight-loss

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

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

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

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

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

We need a lot more awareness about narcissism and psychopathy.

Originally posted on January 28, 2018.   Comments are welcome.

Lucky Otters Haven

darktriad

Elizabeth Mika is one of the 27 mental health professionals who contributed to the  bestselling book,  The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.   She is a psychologist who writes about narcissism, psychopathy and authoritarianism (specifically Donald Trump’s authoritarianism) on her Medium blog.  I follow her on Twitter (she’s under @yourauntemma if you want to follow her too) because I never want to miss one of her articles.    The other day, she tweeted this in reference to the many pleas to “remember the Holocaust”:

Unless we teach about the conscience-impairing character defects, like psychopathy & narcissism, shared by genocidal leaders & their followers, these calls for remembrance will remain hollow.

She’s absolutely right.   Even though the Cluster B personality disorders, specifically those in the Dark Triad — Narcissistic Personality Disorder, psychopathy (Antisocial Personality Disorder), and malignant narcissism (a combination of both disorders with paranoid traits)  — are getting…

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These 7 Traits Make You Vulnerable to Narcissistic Manipulation

This article is a must read for empaths and HSPs, and anyone vulnerable to narcissistic abuse:

These 7 Traits Make You Vulnerable to Narcissistic Manipulation

By Kim Saeed

Comments here have been turned off.  Please leave comments under the original post.

She also has a great site!  Be sure to visit.

https://kimsaeed.com/

Car-ma!

boomerang

A few days before Christmas, my daughter was in a car wreck. She is fine (no injuries), but unfortunately her car was totalled.

Her narc father pays for her car insurance (which is in his name) because due to her age and a few driving violations when she was younger (including driving without a license), rates for her are astronomical and I can’t afford to put her on my insurance either.

It was raining hard and a truck suddenly cut in front of her, her brakes locked up (she didn’t have ABS brakes), and she hydroplaned into the guardrail. She is fine but was pretty shaken up and it could have been bad!   Her car couldn’t be fixed so it was totaled out. The insurance company said they would pay $3,000 for a new car. She was happy because that meant she could get a better, safer used car.

The check came in her father’s name and he kept delaying and making excuses for not giving her the money for the car, or even taking her car shopping. He told her he had to wait for the check to clear. My daughter felt there was something fishy about his excuses and was starting to think he was lying to her.   She knows he’s not trustworthy, especially when it comes to money. He’s also a world class liar.

Finally, he got back to her.   He said that after bank fees there was only $1700 left, so she’d have to find something for that amount. She was very angry and upset.  She thought he’d already spent the money, and he most likely did, since he was bragging to her about his expensive new phone and other things he’d just bought. Obviously, he used her car insurance money to buy toys for himself.

Fortunately, her fiance was helpful, and also because he knows people in the area, he can get inside scoops on good cars at cheap prices. So she was able to snag a 2007 Mazda in good condition and not too much mileage for about $1300.
The car runs great and so far there don’t appear to be any problems with it.

This is when things turned weird.

The day after she got her new car, her father called her and said his truck’s engine blew out. Unbelievably, the first price the mechanic told him he would have to pay to fix it was…wait for it…$1700. He said okay, he could afford that, it be no problem. He lined up a tow truck for his vehicle and asked my daughter to ride him to the repair shop in her new car, where he would wait.

But on the way to the mechanic, he suddenly got a phone call from the proprietor who apologized for the mistake. The price, he said, would not be $1700, it would be $5,000.
Since $1700 is all he has, now he has to find a car for that amount or less.

Car-ma?

The Narcissism of Capital

Here is an incredibly insightful post I wish I’d written. The author explains how unregulated, uncontrolled capitalism and the societal abuse and cruelty inherent in such a political system (America is such a society) is actually an abusive, predatory relationship taken to the macro level, with the callous, corrupt, and often cruel leaders standing in for narcissistic parents and other abusers. I’ve made this same connection myself in some of my own articles about Trump, authoritarianism, and malignant narcissism/sociopathy, but this article seems to explain it even better than I could.

Before you read the article though, let me point out that I use a less broad brush to paint the politicians the author names as narcissists or sociopaths. For example, while Hillary Clinton and Obama certainly have narcissistic traits (which are probably necessary to be successful in politics or be taken seriously in such a high profile endeavor), I do not believe either of them is a sociopath or a malignant narcissist. If they are narcissists (and they may well be), they are of the more benign type. Obama in particular has shown he possesses at least normal levels of empathy, which I don’t think is faked. In my memory, the only president I can recall who was definitely not a narcissist was Jimmy Carter. Because of that, he wasn’t a very effective president, even though he was an unusually good person.

Infinite Ocean

silhouette of statue near trump building at daytime Photo by Carlos Herrero on Pexels.com

Introduction

In my analysis of the 1944 film adaptation of Gaslight, I discussed something I called ‘political gaslighting‘: in abusive interpersonal relationships, the abuser fabricates, denies, and distorts the truth to disorient the victim; I argued how the super-rich, as well as the politicians and the media who work for them, also do this lying and disorienting, but to the public. I’d like to expand on those ideas here.

We all know about how emotional abuse can happen in families, school, the workplace, and online; that’s psychological abuse on the ‘micro’ level. Now, let’s discuss it on the ‘macro’ level, how it exists on the geopolitical level, for this is, no doubt, a far greater problem.

Many parallels can be seen in the comparison of narcissistic abuse and class conflict. The fact that Donald Trump is as obvious a narcissist as…

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Trump’s strange behavior at G20 summit is a window into his current state of mind.

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An example of narcissistic projection.  Blame others for what you are guilty of, even when there’s no proof.

 

Some of you may remember Trump’s overconfident, even arrogant and obnoxious alpha- male behavior at last year’s G20 summit in Germany and other events where he had to mingle with world leaders:  arrogantly pushing aside Montenegro’s president so he could get to the front of the group, the childish refusal to shake Angela Merkel’s hand, his standoffishness, and other gestures and comments indicating his contempt and disregard for the the leaders of western democracies.   I could go on with examples but that would take too long and it’s not my point in this post anyway.

Trump is under enormous stress right now, due to recent events that don’t bode well for his future in politics or even his freedom:  Mueller and his team are beginning to move closer to Trump’s inner circle, his longtime “fixer” Michael Cohen has turned against him and admitted he lied under oath (and telling Mueller everything he knows).   Perhaps most ominously, in just over a month, the new Democratic Congress, headed by the very competent and confident Nancy Pelosi, takes over, bringing much needed checks and balances back into government.  These Democrats can and will hold Trump accountable for his crimes and unethical and cruel policies, and Trump knows it.   The party’s almost over.

For perhaps the first time in his 72 years, this overgrown spoiled brat who has always gotten his own way and never been held accountable for anything in his life, will finally be made to answer for his illegal and immoral mob boss ways, and Trump isn’t pleased.    In fact, right now he’s feeling pretty shaky and insecure.   He’s not even able, at the moment, to mask his insecurity with his usual false arrogance and bluster.  He’s emotionally deflated and terrified of what his future holds,  and his mental state shows in his odd behavior at this year’s G20 summit.    He seems more like a frightened little boy about to be sent to his room and denied his favorite TV show than the fearsome dictator he aspires to be (or thinks he already is).

I had noticed on several occasions that Trump only looked truly happy when he was hobnobbing with vicious dictators like Putin, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, or North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.   I’ve never seen him smile like he is in the picture below (either Putin or MBS was approaching, though I can’t recall which one) with any leaders of western democracies.  (In fact, he always seems downright uncomfortable with them and is very critical of them).   This is one of the only genuine looking smiles I’ve ever seen from Trump.

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Here’s another of him in the private (closed off to the press) meeting that took place in the Oval Office last year with Russian oligarchs.  He looks genuinely happy.

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So, it doesn’t help Trump’s fragile ego that his despotic buddies (and objects of his childlike hero worship) Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) appear to be shunning Trump like a couple of catty middle school girls at the G20 summit this year.

Watch this incredible video of Putin and MBS sharing a moment of laughter and high fiving each other as Trump comes lumbering into the room from behind.    Trump must be painfully aware that these two despots have never smiled or laughed with Trump the way they do here with each other.  Deep down,  Trump must know that he is not as well regarded or well liked by these two as they like and regard each other.    But  as they are very likely pure psychopaths rather than mere malignant narcissists like Trump, they would naturally have more in common with each other, both of them being free of that pesky emotional fragility and hypersensitivity to criticism that people with NPD are always saddled with.   As pure psychopaths, they don’t care what other people think of them: they just do what they want.   Although Trump shares their lack of conscience and empathy, he also cares very much what people  think of him, especially those who (like Putin and MBS) are useful to him.

Trump definitely sees them, and his jealousy of their bond is as obvious as his orange tinted spray tan.  Here’s a closeup screenshot someone took of Trump’s face during the exchange.  If looks could kill!

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Although I’m not a mental health professional and can’t make a diagnosis, most mental health professionals agree that Trump almost certainly has all 9 DSM criteria for  Narcissistic Personality Disorder (and fits most of the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder).   When a person has both NPD and ASPD (sociopathy), they are considered to be malignant narcissists.  Malignant narcissism, a term first coined by psychologist Erich Fromm back in the 1960s, isn’t a clinically accepted medical term, but it’s well known in the narcissistic abuse community (and now, due to Trump, is becoming known outside of that community and is practically a household word, much like the term gaslighting has recently become a term most “lay” people know the meaning of, because Trump and his followers do it so constantly).

NPD causes a profound lack of empathy that often manifests as social awkwardness. This causes even some professionals to initially mistake people with NPD as being on the autism spectrum.  Some narcissists can fake empathy, but Trump isn’t one of them. While his inability to fake empathy may actually be a saving grace for the country and the world (Trump’s poor acting ability makes his disorder more obvious and therefore he is less dangerous than someone who can hide behind a mask of fake compassion and kindness).

As a result, Trump often shuns social events that require him to show empathy, or camaraderie with others.   Like all narcissists, he is terrified of appearing awkward or socially incompetent in public, and because he doesn’t possess the acting ability to fake social competence or empathy, when he is forced to attend such events, he usually is off by himself, physically not present, or behaving in ways that deviate from what the others are doing and appear strange, inappropriate, and awkward. Notice how out of touch he seems in both these photos. Due to his lack of empathy, he cannot read social cues that others can read with ease.

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This is why Trump has refused to attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, in which one of the traditions is to “roast” the current president and other high profile politicians.    Trump has never forgiven Obama for roasting him about insisting he produce his birth certificate at the WHCD in 2012.  Obama’s joke at Trump’s expense got uproarious laughter from the audience.  Narcissists cannot stand to be laughed at, even as a good natured part of a tradition.  They can’t roll with the punches because they take themselves very, very seriously.    A joke at their expense becomes a severe narcissistic injury.   (The White House Correspondents’ Dinner discontinued its comedic roasts this year, possibly due to not wanting to risk any more “hurt feelings.”)

Here’s a photo of Trump at last year’s G20 summit in Germany, and you can see how isolated he is. Keep in mind that at that summit, he was among highly intelligent people who are leaders of world democracies and cognizant of world affairs. Trump, having little in common with them (and painfully aware his intelligence and knowledge of world affairs could never match theirs) sits, nearly pouting, by himself.

trumpG20summit2017

It’s even worse this year for him, and Trump, not possessing acting abilities, doesn’t even seem to be able to fake a smile (or arrogantly push aside the president of another country, as he did with Montenegro’s president Milo Đukanović).   He  appears unusually isolated, morose, angry, and unhappy.   He is suffering severe narcissistic injury due to what he knows is coming (even though he continues to deny any wrongdoing).  The apparent rejection of his heroes Putin and MBS at the summit are like salt in an already festering wound.

At his rallies back at home, he’s surrounded by people less educated and more ignorant than even he is (and is fawned over, adulated, and even worshipped as if he is God, and this infuses him with the narcissistic fuel he needs to function), so it’s easy for him to snap back into his alpha male show of bravado and false confidence, but at a foreign summit full of intellectually superior world leaders, he cannot and his emotional vulnerability is on display for the world to see.

trumpg20summit2  trumpg20summit3

Trump is a man who knows the walls of justice are closing in on him, and even his foreign despotic allies seem to be losing respect for him. He may even be a liability to them at this point. I almost want to feel sorry for Trump, but because of his two year reign of terror and the immeasurable trauma he has caused to Americans and the entire world, I have no pity for him. He deserves whatever is coming.

In the next few weeks, until the Democratic House convenes on January 3,  Trump is going to double down and his aggressive behavior and lies here at home (where he’s back in his element) will become much worse.  We need to hang on and be courageous as his narcissistic rage will be nearly out of control.  But take heart:  it’s almost over, and he knows it.  That’s why he’s lashing out at anyone who isn’t on his side:  journalists, Democrats, women, liberals, and anyone who criticizes him.  But it’s temporary.  Like the Wicked Witch of the West, he has been doused with water, and he’s melting.   He will scream and flail and put up a mighty fight, but he will not be able to destroy democracy.  We are stronger and more powerful than any flailing, screaming, decompensating narcissist because there are more of us and we have truth on our side.

Don’t be surprised if he resigns.   While resignation is an act of defeat that seems out of character for someone as narcissistic as Trump, if he can no longer hold up the facade of invincibility, in order to save face resignation may be his only option.

 

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Confusing patterns.

This is an older post about a very confusing time for me during my recovery journey. It’s very common for people with Complex PTSD who survived narcissistic abuse to believe they are narcissists themselves, but if you think you are one, most likely you are not. I definitely have narcissistic traits, some that I picked up from my abusers, others that may be inherent, but I don’t have NPD.

Two years ago, I became so certain I did that I actually started a second blog about it. That blog has been taken down, though some people did tell me they found it helpful and that makes me happy. It’s very common for people with C-PTSD to believe they have NPD. but I just couldn’t leave the blog up because it started to feel like a lie.

Lucky Otters Haven

confused2

In the almost year and a half since I’ve been blogging, an interesting picture has emerged. I started to blog after I went no contact with my ex (actually very low contact since we have children) as a way to process having been a victim of narcissistic abuse, first by my family of origin, then by my ex. My focus for the first six months or so was primarily on my abusers, and my rage at narcissists in general. Most of my articles were about narcissists and narcissism, and I read everything I could about it too. I became close with other ACON (adult children of narcissists) bloggers. I wasn’t ready yet to take a good long look at myself and what I could do to help myself, other than staying far away from abusive people. But it was a very good start to a journey that proved to be…

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Oh, for the love of Christ. Fooled by another f*cking covert narcissist?

Crocodile Tears

This time it’s a damned covert narc.  At least I think that’s what I’m dealing with.  Do I sound mad and upset?  You bet I am.   I hope I’m wrong but I know the red flags when I seee them.  I’ve had enough experience with them.

Hell, about two years ago (as some of you probably remember) I spent many weeks and maybe even months reading and studying everything I could find about all the symptoms and signs of covert NPD because I was so certain I must be one myself.   I probably qualify for an advanced degree in this disorder.  (Happily, I finally realized I am not one, but CPTSD, an earlier diagnosis of BPD, and my narcissistic “fleas” had me fooled.)

You may be aware I live with my daughter, who is 25.   She’s a good girl, hardworking, sweet, empathetic, intelligent, and beautiful (and I don’t just say that because I’m her mom).   Sure, she has her bad, even bitchy, moments, but don’t we all.   She’s overcome a lot due to her father’s abuse, my complicity and enabling, and sexual abuse she suffered at school.  There was a time back during her teens both her therapists and I were afraid she was developing a personality disorder, probably ASPD (antisocial personality disorder) because she had a diagnosis of ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) as a teen.  She could not function in a regular school setting because she was in trouble constantly and suspended several times for things like stealing and fighting.

Finally, she went into residential treatment and was helped immensely (she was very cooperative with the very strict program) and today is a much different young woman. She has a ton of empathy I never knew was there.    I am beyond grateful for that, and today I can say we are the best of friends.   She is also clean and doesn’t do drugs anymore so I am incredibly grateful for that too.

But there’s a downside too.  Over the past several years, she’s been engaging in a dead end lifestyle I can only call serial monogamy.   She gets serious about one guy, they seem serious about her (for a time), and they even start talking about marriage, but things never progress any further.   There’s always something wrong with the guy: he’s too controlling, becomes abusive, or starts to see other people on the side, or she gets tired of them herself.   At least one who seemed too good to be true turned out to be a dangerous psychopath.

All of these relationships end, and then she quickly moves onto the next man (she’s attractive and personable so it’s easy for her to find new lovers).   I’ve talked to her about furthering her education, deciding on a career (she works in a series of dead end service jobs none of which last very long),  and focusing on just herself, but she’s just like I was at that age: she seems to lack the motivation gene or any idea what she wants to do in life (besides find a man she can marry and will support her).  She seems incapable of tolerating being single.   That’s how I was at her age and I will always regret never developing myself to my full potential and not being more serious about finishing a higher education and finding something I’m passionate enough to turn into a career.  She is certainly intelligent enough, but she’s emotionally damaged.  Getting her to go to therapy is futile.  She simply won’t do it.  But that’s a whole other issue I won’t get into here.

It’s painful watching her take the same non-path I took –a road to an adulthood of constant near poverty, frustration, lack of intellectual and creative fulfillment, relentless financial insecurity, and now, for me — a terrible dread of old age without any real safety net.  I may be living on the streets if Medicare and Social Security are abolished, and that is terrifying.  I don’t have a life partner to provide emotional support, since I never knew how to pick one who didn’t turn out to be an abuser.  I  feel like I’m way too old (and still too afraid) to enter the dating scene again (I hate dating with a passion).  I’d rather just stay single and see how things play out.

Getting back to my daughter, her latest paramour is a man 14 years her senior (he is almost 40).  He gives the impression of a very sweet, kind, and sensitive person.  In fact, he appears to be a very emotional person who shed tears easily and is constantly apologizing.   That should have been a red flag.

At first I thought, “oh, how sweet, a sensitive man not afraid of his emotions,” but I actually think he uses tears and emotion to manipulate others to get his way or to get attention.   Using pity is a red flag of a covert narcissist, especially one of the “fragile” or “vulnerable” type.   They’re common (especially in women but can be found among men too).  They’re dangerous because they’re so hard to spot.  We expect narcs to be mean, arrogant, verbally abusive, and never apologize for anything.  But not all of them are like that, even though on th inside, they are all pretty much the same and just as self obsessed and entitled.   No matter whether their style is grandiose or self pitying, there’s always a yawning black hole where their heart ought to be.

covertnarcissism

The reason I came to the conclusion he’s probably a covert narcissist and not just a big softie with a huge heart is the way he appears to string both of us along, causing immense anger and frustration.

He has been promising to get her an engagement ring and propose.  He was supposed to do it on our vacation last week.  We had agreed ahead of time that he would give me  half the money for the hotel, plus half of all expenses (meals, etc.).    The tab came to over $400.   Originally he was supposed to have the cash for me when we got to the hotel and I would pay the whole tab on my credit card.   Well, it turned out his employer made a mistake on his check and he didn’t get paid.  How convenient.

His employer promised they would rectify this on Friday, the day we returned from our trip.    I believed him, sort of.  At least I wanted to believe him.   But there had been one or two other red flags previous to this, that I didn’t think much of at the time, but I suddenly remembered them and began to wonder if he was trying to find a way to get out of paying me, or if he was getting cold feet about the engagement, since without the money, he couldn’t put the final payment down on my daughter’s ring.

I wanted to have a good time, and forget about all this unpleasant business, and so we did.   It seemed worth it, since we all had a great time and he was nothing less than wonderful to both my daughter and me.  Not another sign of narcissism or abusiveness, covert or otherwise.

But after we got home, he called his employer and found out they “forgot” again.  He was promised they would write up a check from petty cash the next day, which was Saturday.  Something felt wrong.

On Saturday he had a sudden “episode” of fainting and an ambulance had to be called.   My daughter went with him to the hospital, which said he would be okay.  It had something to do with heat stroke from too much sun, plus another chronic medical issue he’s been struggling with.   It wasn’t that I wasn’t empathetic or thought he was faking, but the timing of this “emergency” was just really weird.  Of course he could not go get his check, so now it would have to wait until Sunday.    Even my daughter mentioned to me that she was afraid he might be faking so he could put off getting the money.   I have to admit I thought this was a possibility.

I was growing very angry over his failure to pay me back the $400 he had promised me almost a week earlier.    We had never agreed that the vacation would be a gift.  I also considered that this might be his way of getting “cold feet” since his inability to get the money meant he could not finish paying off her ring and therefore there would be no proposal right now, if ever.  What a cowardly way to call off or delay an engagement, if that was what he was actually doing.

Of course, when he got back from the hospital, he was all apologies and tears.   He was hugging both of us and saying “sorry” over and over again.  I felt a little nauseated by this over the top display of emotion because I felt it wasn’t really sincere and was just a way to keep stringing us both along and buying more time.

So last night, he was all happy and excited and told both of us his company had finally issued a check (it was handwritten).  He waved it proudly at both of us.   He wanted me to take today off from work to film him proposing to her (this was supposed to have happened at the beach, but oh well).  I agreed to do this because it seemed important and I didn’t want to miss it.  I had also promised them I’d film the moment.    He said he would cash it first thing in the morning and then he would go get her ring and then we’d all go out somewhere special where he would propose.

Well, guess what.    This morning when I woke up he was gone.  My daughter was in her room mad as hell (not crying, just furious).   I asked her what happened, and she said the check was postdated for next week!   I asked her if he had failed to look at the date and she said, no, he definitely had seen it but chose not to mention it because he was afraid she’d be mad at him and he “couldn’t bear to hurt her again.”    She said she was sick of his lying and game playing so she made him leave until he could get everything fixed and get the money for both her ring and the $400 he owed me.   She said if he failed to do that, she was done with him.   That’s a good decision on her part.   Meanwhile I’ll still be out $400 which he bilked from me to get a free beach vacation, but I guess things could be worse.   He promised her he had a way to get the money today.  We shall see.   I’m skeptical.

Anyway, I’m glad my daughter is beginning to catch on to when she’s being manipulated and abused, because this is abuse, even though this man hasn’t uttered one nasty word, called her any names, or physically abused her.

Abuse comes in many forms.  Covert narcissists (and many borderlines) often use tears, guilt tripping, begging, financial abuse, “stringing you along,” and other underhanded, insidious techniques to get what they want.  Because they are less obviously abusive and can seem so “nice” and even emotionally fragile and needy, they can instill guilt and pity to get their way.  Their marks are empaths who fall for that sort of shit.    If they never deliver on their promises, you can be pretty sure you’re dealing with a person who is never going to be honest with you and will make your life an endless carousel  of frustration and anger that’s difficult to target on that person because they “never mean it.”

So, at this moment, I’m (maybe foolishly?) waiting for him to come back with the money he owes and make good on the promises he’s so far broken.    But I’m not getting my hopes up, that’s for sure.