Have you ever been in a relationship with a narcissist?
That’s a bit of a trick question… tricky to answer.
Partly because the term ‘narcissist’ hasn’t always meant what it means now.
It used to mean someone who was very vain…
… in love with themselves, with their reflection which they saw everywhere, in street windows, in the eyes of others, in pools of water like Narcissus.
If you called someone a narcissist or if someone called you that… it could be as much of a compliment as a criticism. It didn’t really matter… you might even call yourself a narcissist…
I came across a post a while back on a blog which was called something like – The Narcissist’s blog. In this post the blogger was trying to come to terms with the fact that when they had called their blog that, the term meant something else… but not anymore…
These days when we call someone a narcissist, we usually mean someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder… or someone who we think has NPD.
Someone we have decided is a ‘bad’ person, ‘toxic’, ‘negative’, and other terms we use to describe people who have hurt us, caused us pain, frustrated us, deceived, disappointed and generally screwed us over in some way.
We go online and search for – person who is selfish, mean, nasty… doesn’t care about me only cares about themselves – or something like that and our search results answer us by saying – Oh, you must be talking about a narcissist!
Yes! Yes, I am! Tell me more Google!
My apologies to other search engines, but Google is a narcissist… maybe, and I really need for it to be on my side as I use it a lot, it’s my default search engine, so I’m sucking up to it to stay on its good side.
Flattery gets you results when dealing with a narcissist…… it also gets narcissists results when dealing with others.When you first meet a narcissist, before you know that’s what they are… they’re so charming, so perceptive, so good at making you feel good about yourself. They’re easy to love, to fall for…
During what is now termed ‘The Honeymoon phase’, a narcissist will sweep you off your feet, place you on a pedestal, worship you… heady stuff.
And we would never dream of calling them a narcissist or diagnosing them with a disorder during that time. In fact we usually think we’ve found our ideal person, our dream lover, our perfect partner, friend, etc… It is the best of times and we think the best of them because it makes us feel on top of the world to think that way……as much as humans can be critical, we also can be generous with our praise… our critical abilities tend to only kick in once we’ve been kicked… enough times for it to hurt so bad we never want to be hurt that way again, so we kick first to protect our wounded self, where we’re bruised from the kicks we’ve taken.
We prefer to think well of others if we can… and narcissists encourage us to do that with them and make us feel good about it… feel blessed, touched by an angel…… which is why it is devastating for us when they fail to live up to who we thought they were, imagined them to be, who they promised us they were, who we believed they were, who we needed them to be for us to be their special, chosen one.
Our idealistic, perfect dream shatters and we get sliced to the bone by all the jagged shards of our burst bubble… and bleed profusely… numb from the pain… can’t feel anymore, can’t stop feeling the emptiness of not feeling…
Perhaps we could get over it… survive the fall from grace… the tumble from cloud nine… perhaps we flew too close to the Sun and it melted our wings…but……it’s not just the loss of the best of times which we have to deal with…
Our Prince or Princess Perfectly Charming who stepped out of our dreams… turns into an evil pumpkin… and we are forced to endure a period of the worst of times……the death of our dream is a slow and agonising descent into nightmare, all our monsters which were only supposed to be imaginary become real… just as the dream came true, so does the nightmare.
A narcissist is not usually obvious as a narcissist… they live in the shades of grey between black and white, as do all humans, so the black and white guidelines for recognising a narcissist aren’t helpful until afterwards… until we’ve had the kind of experience we wish we hadn’t had, and even then… we often have to repeat the lesson.
Why? Because people can’t be categorised so easily, whether they’re a narcissist or not. We can all be narcissistic because narcissism is natural and normal, it’s healthy for us…it’s a phase of development which we all go through, some people get stuck there, and that’s when it becomes a disorder.
It could be very loosely likened to getting stuck on a level in a video game. Getting stuck in jail in Monopoly… everyone one else just keeps going and somehow you don’t, you can’t. You’re stuck… stuck in a rut, and at some point you begin to make that rut a home. Put some spin on the rut and soon enough you might even be able to make it the place to be. Decorate it attractively and you might even be able to lure people into believing that their moving on is the last thing they should be doing – this level of the game is the only level worth being on, jail is where it is at in Monopoly!
If someone is offering you a couple of easy steps to recognise a narcissist without fail every time, telling you that people can be that easily categorised, judged, sussed out, split into good or bad, hero or villain, black or white, narcissist or non-narcissist… just follow this formula they’ve created by treating others as one-dimensional things…
And if they’re also offering you a miracle cure for all the pain a narcissist caused you… just sign on this dotted line, pay some cash up front, and all your worldly worries will be gone… and if their miracle cure doesn’t work for you, it’s your fault not theirs because they’re perfect and it worked for them and everyone else who has ever tried it…
Remember that narcissists aren’t easy to spot, especially not when they’re on their best behaviour, selling you the dream, promising you the best of times which you are so desperately seeking, and often first appear in your life as someone rather lovely making everything better, making you feel so good… it’s only later on that the perfect veneer fades, the facade cracks… and the saviour turns into a devil who tempted you with everything you wanted.
Narcissists rather like this new version of the term narcissist… and the more they learn about NPD (they research it as much as you do because they are interested in what’s trending, a hot topic, etc), the more they can use it to… deflect any responsibility from themselves for their own lives and actions, for the consequences of their words and deeds, and they can use it to control others… as always, and keep everything perfect, ideal, keep their delusional bubble intact.
Narcissists are quick to accuse others of what they are guilty. If they get the accusation in first, you’re screwed and they benefit from it… they don’t necessarily do this deliberately, with malice aforethought, sometimes they genuinely believe their own BS, and it ain’t BS when they’re saying it – it’s only that when you say it.
They see themselves reflected in others, they project themselves onto us… all we are is a pool, a reflective surface, a mirror for them.
When we are happy, they see themselves as good people, our smile is their smile, belongs to them, our beauty is theirs, our love is self love for them…
When we are sad, mad, not giving them the expression they want reflected back at them, they don’t like what they see, they hate our faces for being ugly, for making them feel bad about themselves… when we make them feel bad about themselves, then we must be a narcissist…
Oh… and look… when they accuse us of being a narcissist… and they play the victim of a narcissist… oooh… they get rewarded for it… by us… as we try harder to please them, to show them that we’re not a narcissist, that they’re wrong about us – now, they’re never going to stop using this accusation against us because it makes us do what they wanted us to do.
…and they get attention from total strangers who relate to them, with them… when they tell others about the nasty narcissist who won’t do what they want them to do… those strangers say – don’t let the nasty narcissist get away with what they’re doing to you! Fight the monster! Fight them for everyone who has ever known one of those narcissist devils!
And so they do… they’re a hero now when they accuse anyone and everyone who doesn’t do what they want them to do of being a narcissist…
That nasty narcissist wouldn’t give me money to buy myself a diamond tiara, after everything I’ve been through living life and stuff, which always hits me harder than anyone else because I’m super sensitive and empathic, more than anyone else, I’m special that way… I deserve it and they refused for some narcissistic reason such as they had to pay the electricity bill, or get the kids some food… sheesh! I’m the victim here, I need compassion! Why am I always surrounded by narcissists!!!
If you think I’m being OTT about it, then check out – Puppygate – on The Narcissistic Continuum.
They take everything about us personally… they make us responsible for their personal welfare, their sense of self, their identity, ego, and everything else.
We have to smile because they want to feel beautiful…
I once fainted and chipped my front tooth due to the fall, my mother was there and when she finally noticed, which took forever (thank goodness as it gave me time to come to terms with a rather bewildering experience), all she could say was – You’ve ruined your beautiful smile! – and she said it like I’d done it on purpose to hurt her. That this hurt her more than it hurt me – which it always does with a narcissist.
or we need to cry because they need to quench their thirst with our tears, wash away their grime with our water.
Once my mother became aware of the chipped tooth, she pestered me, harassed me, would not let me be until I finally burst into tears (which requires for me to be under a lot of stress as she taught me never to cry when I was an infant), and the moment she drew tears from me… she told me not to cry about it, why was I making such a fuss about it. There, there, there… what a wuss!
One minute they need you to be one thing, the next they need something else from you…
One minute you’re an angel of mercy who is saving them… the next minute you’re evil incarnate who is dragging them to hell…
One minute you’re the last person on earth who could ever be a narcissist… the next minute you’re a narcissist, he’s a narcissist, she’s a narcissist, everyone they’ve ever known is a narcissist… they’re surrounded by narcissists and they’re the only one who could never be a narcissist…
Oh… but they might ask – Could I be a narcissist?… because they’re done a search online, done the same research you’ve done, and found that narcissists never wonder that about themselves, so if they wonder it about themselves, openly and get attention for it, then… that proves they could never be a narcissist. End of. Just be careful how you answer them when they ask that question… it’s not a question. You’re just a mirror mirror on the wall… your job is to tell them that they’re the fairest of them all.
I got called out on my blog recently in a comment for not confirming or denying whether I was a narcissist. For letting others decide about whether I was or not rather than trying to control that.
Perhaps I shouldn’t let others make their own minds up…
There were a few confusing elements in this comment for me, one of which was the commenter’s view of what defined a narcissist, their diagnostic criteria, the other was that they seemed to imply that this putting me on the spot had more to do with them wanting me to comfort them by saying – I’m not a narcissist, therefore you can trust me…
If only it was that easy…
So, if I tell you to trust me… you’ll trust me, right? Aren’t we told never to trust someone who tells us to trust them?
If I say – I’m not a narcissist… – a narcissist would never say that, right?
Frankly (never trust anyone who says that) if I said – I’m definitely not a narcissist… – that’s when I’d suspect that I probably am, so not confirming or denying it is my way of… keeping things in the grey area… I’m human so… I’m probably narcissistic some of the time, hopefully not all of the time… but to be honest (never trust anyone who says that) I don’t have a frigging clue whether I am or am not a narcissist.
I’m not going to a professional to get a diagnosis… you can’t be sure that they’ll diagnose you properly. My godfather/uncle was a child psychologist… he really didn’t understand children at all, but he thought he did. I was a very shy child, his cure for that was to make me feel bad about it and tell me to get over it.
If only it was that easy…
And besides, whether I am or am not a narcissist… in relationships it’s more about whether you experience me as one or not.
Take one of the most famous self-confessed narcissists online – Sam Vaknin. He’s always telling all of us that he’s a narcissist… and yet he still gets loads of flack when he behaves exactly like the narcissist which he tells us he is. Go figure…
I’ve learned a lot from narcissists about being human and the human tendency to try to not be human, to transcend being human and become… what… inhuman?
In some ways narcissists are just humans who were never allowed to just be human…
It can be hard for us to look at the story behind the narcissist, especially if they’ve screwed us over so much that all we want to do is hate them and dehumanise them… kind of do to them what they seem to have done to us.
We turn them into the ultimate unfeeling, inhuman villain… and we just can’t afford to feel anything for them, that has already cost us too much, and they’ve made that very clear – every time we feel for them, they use that feeling against us, to hurt us, take advantage, hit us where it hurts, again and again… they make us feel weak for caring…
But… they weren’t born that way, even if some people bandy about that whole born that way, born evil, genetic devils theory… sometimes buying into that kind of theory is what people need to do to heal their own wounds, and they’re not necessarily aware of the wounds that kind of theory may cause if they don’t consider the consequences of holding onto it a bit too rigidly.
We live and learn… life is about learning… learning to live… as a human.
* speaking of not being a robot… WordPress just completely messed with my post’s formatting, sorry if it’s more of a mess than usual!
I don’t know you but unless you generally fake being kind and empathetic to strangers for absolutely no reason, I don’t think you have NPD. Just my opinion lol.
Thank you very much 🙂
That’s kind of you to say that. I don’t think I’m a narcissist either, but… you never know.
I think it’s important to keep that possibility open as everyone is a moveable feast of sorts…
Sometimes we label people and need to rethink our labels, especially if we’re basing our labels for others on what other others have told us, and what we think based on their influence. We need to be aware of how much others have bearing on our opinion of other others… if that makes sense.
Where narcissists are concerned… we need to double check that the person we’ve labeled as a ‘narcissist’ is really a narcissist and not someone who narcissists have decided is their ‘scapegoat’. This can be very tricky.
Since you’re particularly interested in ‘covert narcissists’ – covert narcs are the first to label someone else as a narcissist and convince others of their diagnosis. Which is why I asked you that question about knowing someone personally.
Being certain that they’re who others have told you they are is important, especially when the label ‘narcissist’ comes into play.
LikeLiked by 1 person
He did wonder if he was a narcissist and even if I was, but is so afraid to label the mother of his children as one. And honestly he has picked up a few traits from 20 years with her that are very unhealthy. But he is basically a textbook example of codependent, it’s scary. That’s why we’re not in contact. He needs to figure things out on his own. I take nothing at face value and the few lies he told me? He’s not a very good liar and we both hated that most about the affair. She stopped asking and he was happy not having to lie. But his journey is his now. Whatever happens, it’s all on him.
I might not have been raised by narcissists or had a long-term relationship with one (well except as a teen but that’s ancient history) but I am extremely empathetic and aware. Of myself and others. I can sense something off. Always have. I knew he was damaged. Their daughter’s therapist thought it was sad but not uncommon he is just now realizing he’s married to a covert narcissist. Therapist has no doubt that’s what she is. Neither do I. But he’s just as much the problem for continuing to be sucked back in over n over again to the lies, manipulations, sick mind games and abuse. He’s obviously addicted to the cycle and may never break free.
I’m glad you have a good, loving partner. We all deserve that. Be well xo
That empathy and awareness is catnip to a narcissist, because what they long for is for someone to give and give and give, and understand them… as they don’t understand themselves.
Have you read up on the sensitive/vulnerable narcissist?
This site is very interesting, it’s designed for children but it works for adults too – http://www.angriesout.com/grown20.htm
This is also an interesting read – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stop-walking-eggshells/201311/the-lament-lonely-narcissist
Whenever a narcissist enters our life, directly or indirectly, it’s a cue for us to do some self reflection. Sometimes they come into our lives when it’s time for us to figure out an old story, put some pieces of a puzzle together, maybe we’re going through a rough patch and what happens with them is like sandpaper showing us what lies beneath.
Best wishes on your journey, what you get out of this will enrich what you already have 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
He is sometimes self-absorbed, extremely codependent and he has very low self-esteem. But he is very caring, kind and empathetic. As dysfunctional as he is, he isn’t a narcissist. He’s just been married to a covert narcissist for almost 20 years and is addicted to the cycle of abuse. He’s in denial, wants closure and answers. Which is funny and sad cause that’s not gonna happen. Thankfully we are no longer in contact and I am focusing on myself and my marriage. Thank u for the reading. What was the name of the book about the games people play and why? That i’d like to read. Be well xo
The book is Games People Play by Eric Berne. You can read up on most of the games on the website, the links to the games are in the sidebar of this page – http://www.ericberne.com/games-people-play/
Also worth reading is the work of Thomas Moore, especially his book on Soul Mates. This is an article about that – https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199403/soul-mates
LikeLiked by 1 person
hello, ursula. have never commented here before, but, i’ve been reading your blog for some time now. i was curious about your above statement: “…we need to double check that the person we’ve labeled as a ‘narcissist’ is really a narcissist and not someone who narcissists have decided is their ‘scapegoat’.” can you elaborate? can scapegoats and narcissists exhibit similar behaviors/characteristics?
Hi, and thank you very much for reading 🙂
What I was thinking when I said that was about when other people tell us about a narcissist with whom they’ve had a relationship. If we don’t know the person who they have told us is a narcissist, we may take their word for it that this person (whom they know and we don’t) is a narcissist, and is as awful as they say they are. But what if the person who is telling us about the narcissist in their life is actually the narcissist and the person they say is a narcissist is actually their scapegoat.
To play Devil’s Advocate with myself – What if my parents aren’t narcissists, what if I’m the narcissist and my parents are my scapegoats? On my blog you only get my side of the story, and my story is – my parents are narcissists, I was their scapegoat, and I have lots of tales to back that up. BUT how do you know if my side of the story is true? My parents don’t get to tell their side of the story on my blog. If my mother got to tell her side of the story on my blog, and if she had read up on narcissists, she’d probably portray herself as the victim and scapegoat of a narcissist daughter.
I’ve read stories by parents, especially mothers, who accuse their child of being a narcissist and claim to be the victims of their narcissist child. Some of them back up their claim by blaming the other parent, in most cases the father (who they sometimes say is also a narcissist), for why their child is a narcissist.
In one case I came across online, in the comments on a post, a mother claimed that her daughter was a narcissist – she also claimed that her daughter had accused her, the mother, of being a narcissist. Because the mother was the one doing the commenting, the other commenters sided with her and were sympathetic towards her about her problem with her narcissist daughter.
I had a link to that post and the comments on it, but the site it was on changed their format so the link doesn’t work properly anymore. I used it on this post on my blog – https://anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/when-narcissists-claim-to-be-victims-of-narcissists-who-is-the-narcissist/
There are also cases where both people involved in a romantic relationship are accusing the other one of being the narcissist. How do you know who is the actual narcissist, both can back up their claim, have plenty of tales to prove it. What if they’re both narcissists? Or neither of them is a narcissist but since ‘narcissist’ is a trendy label to stick onto someone when a relationship has gone wrong and you feel hard done by the other person, it gets used and once that happens…
When we’re deeply hurt, in pain… pain is narcissistic and if it does the talking for us, we can end up sounding like a narcissist while accusing someone else of being the narcissist. I tried to get that across in this post – https://anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/is-john-a-narcissist-or-is-john-the-victim-of-a-narcissist/
The lines can be very blurred, and if we’re hearing someone else’s story, we may side with them.
There was an incident with my mother where she twisted her ankle and fell over. She had ‘weak ankles’ as she was always telling me, and she insisted on wearing silly high heels which made this more of a problem than it needed to be. She fell over one day and broke her wrist in the fall, while trying to break the fall. I wasn’t with her at the time. When I returned, the doctor who had been called in gave me this look and said some things which intimated that he thought I had abused my mother and she was covering up for me. That shocked me, but I decided just to suck it up. I have no idea what the story she told him was, but by then I knew that she was prone to telling tall stories, with her as the damsel in distress and everyone else as the villain, and she did that with me especially when she was annoyed at me for doing something without her. A friend of hers once told me about how my mother portrayed me when I wasn’t around – that was a shock too, but I was naive to think she’d be fair in her portrayal of me when she could gain so much sympathy from making me a villain, as she did with my father, as she did with everyone else.
She is a covert narcissist. That kind of narcissist always portrays themselves as the victim of others – these days they’re the ‘victim of narcissists’. They believe their own delusions and stories, so their stories are very believable to others.
This is an interesting post about that – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stop-walking-eggshells/201111/two-types-narcissists-pose-somewhat-different-challenges – as is this rather extreme version of it – http://n-continuum.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/online-narcissists-case-study-called.html – or this view of someone who admits to being a narcissist but is still playing the blame others game – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stop-walking-eggshells/201311/the-lament-lonely-narcissist
As to whether a scapegoat and a narcissist have similar behaviours/characteristics… that’s tricky because narcissists have access to the same info everyone does about NPD, and the role of the scapegoat is one which appeals to Covert narcissists. So how do you know that a ‘scapegoat’ is actually a scapegoat and not a narcissist?
In my mother’s case, she saw herself as having been ‘scapegoated’ as a child. According to her – She was the female child in a family which favoured male children, her brother got away with everything and she was not allowed to get away with anything. She got punished for things he did – he blamed her, everyone took his side against her. She got punished for the same things he did, while he got away with them and was even praised for it – boys will be boys, girls get punished for being girls. When she became an adult, she simply did to others what had been done to her, got even, passed her wound on in the way that narcissists do.
Overt narcissists may also use a version of the scapegoat to get away with what they’re doing – my father blamed my mother for why he had affairs with other women (he sometimes did the classic – my wife doesn’t understand me – to gain sympathy and get other women to have affairs with him. Poor him, his wife treated him badly, was frigid, etc – she made him do it. He portrayed her as a narcissist, although at the time the label of ‘narcissist’ wasn’t popular so he used the terms used during that time.
If my parents had been a couple during this decade – narcissist would have been their label for each other.
If you’re dealing with a real scapegoat and not a narcissist who has decided they’re a scapegoat – who often plays the role of scapegoat better than a real scapegoat – then the lines can be even more blurred because someone who is a real scapegoat often has accepted that they’re the ‘bad’ one, that everything is their fault, and they may behave in ways which confuse other people, outsiders, who don’t understand what’s going on.
In terms of being the child of a narcissist – the child who becomes the scapegoat of narcissist parents may well behave similarly to a narcissist due to being isolated by the narcissist and only having them as a frame of reference for behaviour.
I do behave narcissistically, and have definitely come across as a narcissist when I was younger. I often ‘discarded’ people, but it was mostly due to feeling that I was a reject, and to feeling that they only liked me when I said and did what they wanted me to say and do, and frankly that’s exhausting… what’s the point, people dump you the moment you’re no longer useful to them, so to save myself some time and not put myself through extra pain, I simply removed myself from their lives.
From the outside I probably looked exactly like a narcissist – on the inside… well, who cares to know what you’re really like on the inside, as they’re only interested in your outside and how that makes them feel. Which is why narcissists, especially when they’re in their people-pleasing mode, are so good at making friends and influencing people. Scapegoats usually suck at that – their role is to be the brunt of everyone else’s issues.
It’s a complex enigma… and it helps to know why someone is asking about it? Care to share?
ps. Have you read about the ultimate narcissist/scapegoat enigma of the moment – http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/jul/09/michigan-judge-kids-juvenile-detention – that article is one of many about this very strange case.
i was asking because i am the scapegoat of two n parents, and have been reading up on scapegoats and scapegoating behavior. i had never heard it said that it can be hard to tell the difference between scapegoats and narcissists. actually, i think i just misunderstood your statement.
It can be difficult to figure things out where narcissism is concerned, especially if you’re the child of narcissists. Your experience of narcissists and of being their scapegoat will be different from those who experienced being a scapegoat when they were an adult who previously had no experience of narcissists.
Have you read ‘A Child Called It’ by Dave Pelzer. It’s an insightful read, and the aftermath of the publishing and popularity of the book is also interesting. The author wrote it as a memoir and his family claimed he’d made it all up, however one of his siblings confirmed his story. You can read more about it on the Wiki of the author.
There are many aspects that have to be considered when you’re a child of narcissists trying to sort out your story. CZBZ of The Narcissistic Continuum wrote an interesting post about the issue of ‘reparenting’ yourself (I can’t link you because I can’t find the post, she writes a lot on being an ACoN) whereby a child of narcissists realises that they sort of have to start from scratch because what they were taught as a child, what they absorbed from their parents, is a narcissistic view and approach to life.
It’s also quite useful to learn about the individual history of your parents, as their story, especially of their own childhood, can shed light on why they are the way they are, and it can help you see how much of their own wound they tried to pass onto you.
A lot of what comes with being scapegoated is about the narcissist reliving their own story which plays on repeat in their psyche. They may be reenacting what was done to them with you, only this time they’re the powerful parent rather than the powerless child.
These are a couple of interesting articles:
And this is my all time favourite article about narcissism – http://www.energeticsinstitute.com.au/page/narcissism.html
I also recommend this book – http://andywhiteblog.com/2015/06/23/going-mad-to-stay-sane/ – because it really helped me to understand the underlying issues involved in being scapegoated, and their psychological effects both then and now. I’d read a lot about narcissists before I read this, but so much which is written about NPD focuses on the narcissist rather than on how it affects those who are part of the narcissist’s environment.
There’s more written about how narcissists affect others these days, more about being a scapegoat or golden child and the knock on effect, how it influences you as an adult. And how, especially as a scapegoat, difficult it is to break free. It’s not just the narcissist parents who keep you trapped, it’s also society who in some ways continues to scapegoat you or insist that you be the perfect golden child (even if you were the scapegoat).
It’s very complex, and I’m still trying to figure out my own story which is partly why I blog. Sometimes I catch myself behaving like a narcissist… but behavng like a narcissist and being one is different, sometimes though, the lines are blurry.
Actually misunderstandings can be very helpful. I misunderstand things all the time particularly when I’m reading because I have dyslexia. It can be awkward or funny, but sometimes very enlightening because it prompts something within. Also pay attention to when you have a strong reaction to something you read, especially a negative one. I read that in a book once, that our negative reactions if we explore them can open us up to what is hidden inside of us (I got very angry with that book for saying that – and paused to ask myself why – I’ve learned a lot about myself from doing that).
Keep researching and searching, finding answers to your questions – remember you have all the answers within you, but sometimes others help us to find those.
Sorry, this is another long reply, interacting on my blog helps me, I hope it flows both ways 🙂
i learned about npd three years ago, and have been reading about it and studying it ever since. i’ve read a lot. i’ve already read every article you listed above. i’ve been following andy white’s blog. i’m one of the many people who tried to find his book after you mentioned it the first time, but, amazon, and all other places only had it for some unbelievably high price. however, i was able to read a good portion of it on amazon, using their “look inside” feature. i, like you, related to it quite a lot. i was my father’s golden child and my mother’s scapegoat. so, i related immediately to the being sent double messages thing. my mother was in charge in our household, though, so what my father thought really didn’t matter. the scapegoat tag was the one that stuck. this did not, however, stop my father from pulling me aside, at times when my mother was not around, to tell me how special and brilliant i was. members of my extended family on my mother’s side caught on to the scapegoat tag and fell in line. then there’s my father’s side of the family who saw me as the reason my parents stayed together (apparently, they were on the verge of splitting at the time of my birth, so, i can relate to you about being a “fix it” baby). they disliked my mother and wanted my father to leave her. so, they don’t dig me too much either. i am not only my parents’ scapegoat. it’s a family tradition.
my father has since discarded me and adopted the opinion of my mother. the event that caused me to take to the internet and library in search of answers was my older brother (my mother’s golden child, although, he can become another scapegoat for her when he pisses her off) becoming a father. i watched as my father latched on to my older nephew like a parasite. my father had to be my nephew’s favorite person. my father had to be the one who got all of my nephew’s attention. when my nephew was about seven, my brother became a father again. i watched as my father completely discarded my older nephew in favor of the new baby. i always knew there was something not right about my mother, but now i wondered about my father. until then, i had always seen him as her victim. which led me to the internet. which led me to npd. which led me to think about my relationship with my brother. we have always had a “surface niceness” sort of relationship. and, he has always viewed me as BOTH of my parents’ favorite! of course, whenever he would express this view to me, my reaction would be something along the lines of, “are you f***ing crazy?!” but now i’m thinking, what if, when i was born, my father did the same thing to my brother that he did to my older nephew??? despite the “surface niceness” of our relationship, i have always felt an underlying “you get on my nerves” sort of vibe from him. when my parents or members of my extended family are around, he distances himself from me. he lives in another state, and we only communicate through my mother (classic triangulation). she has told me things about him that i’m sure he told her not expecting her to tell me. who knows what she’s telling him about me. whenever there is conflict between myself and my parents (pretty much constantly) he immediately takes their side before even hearing mine. he is all too willing to join in their scapegoating me. he speaks to me as though i were one of his children. it often feels as though i have a mother and two fathers.
well, there it is. my legacy of crazy. my family and all their reasons for hating me. i’m okay, though. you’re right. you just have to throw out the shit you got from your family and begin again. i had begun to slowly distance myself from my mother (as i said, my father was over me a while ago). she picked up on that, and let’s just say, she really started to show her ass. that led to a big blow-up type of event, and we haven’t spoken since. she, in true n fashion, brought about exactly what she was trying to prevent. it was only my intention to go lc, but, i see now, that is not possible. i just hope they stay away. don’t know if this is THE final, grand discard, or just the silent treatment. this could be it, or, my mother could call in a few months to inform me that someone i barely know died. i have just been basking in the peace. it’s just amazing, the utter, cinematic nuttiness of it all. this is not at all what i expected to be discovering at this time in my life.
i have heard of a child called it, and will definitely check it out.
there was a point i was trying to make with the above post. your parents remind me of my parents. not the specific events that you’ve written about, but, just the dynamic between them. that’s why i started off talking about andy white’s book and how much i related to it. the post got away from me a bit. i guess something in me wanted to tell my story. anyway, i hope you’re not thoroughly confused now.
Thank you very much for sharing 🙂
What you wrote is very clear, and not at all confusing. In fact it shows what a concise grasp you have of your family dynamic, the parts everyone plays, and the role assigned to you, as well as exactly how NPD can have many faces and often be subtle in its expression.
You’ve totally aced it! Reading what you’ve written is inspiring, and clarified something for me about my own story. I just realised how anxious I always was when my parents ‘loved’ me, and how relieved I was when they were hating me. It’s never been this clear to me. It was something so subtle, and it’s helped me with something I have been struggling with recently. Wow! Thank you!!!
One of the many strange things about narcissists is that in some ways when they hate you they love you. Their hate is more important to them than love because it consumes them, and it tends to be deeper and more meaningful than their love. If they hate you, there’s some grudging respect in it as they can’t manipulate you the way they want to, and they may see you as a threat – which is a twisted compliment of sorts. If they love you, that’s far more worrying than if they hate you, as their love often signals that they have some plan for you which involves using you to fulfill some need of theirs. Their love is invasive, smothering, and self-serving, whereas their hate often means they’ll steer clear of you and find someone else to ‘love’.
Although it can be very painful to have them hate you, and they can be a royal pain in the butt about it, influencing others against you because they’re afraid of you and always need an army to protect them, fabricating stories and causing trouble between you and others, in certain ways it’s healthier for you than when they’re in love mode, as you pointed out so well with respect to the way your father’s love works. When he has decided to love someone he takes them over and smothers them, demanding adoration, etc. But when he shifts his love away, he leaves the person alone to have their own personal space. Of course that can be confusing for the person who was once loved and is now no longer useful to the narcissist, and it can have a long term effect either way, but there’s more of a chance of finally finding yourself and who you are as a being separate from the narcissist and their invasive love.
I’m sure you already know that your parents will probably make contact with you at some point, narcissist parents rarely let their children go no matter what, you’re a part of their identity and story. They don’t tend to do the final discard with their children, it can happen but it has to fit in with their story. Knowing their story will help you predict their pattern. Sometimes their silent treatment can go on for ages and give the impression that they won’t contact you again. Sometimes they’re waiting for you to contact them. Playing ‘chicken’ with you. What you may get is a third party contact, a random family friend or maybe your brother will make contact and ask some leading questions, make heavy suggestions.
My mother used to like to injure herself when I was ignoring her, so there’s that tactic too.
Enjoy the silence and use it to keep exercising that brilliant mind of yours, figuring things out, healing and generally enjoying having your narcissist free space. There’s a lot which may rise up from within, some of it can be things like fears which were never allowed to be acknowledged, pain which was not allowed to be felt, and some of it can be forgotten passions and dreams which died under the weight of the narcissists, which can now revive themselves. You may discover loads of things you love to do, and throw away things you forced yourself to do. Most of all, enjoy spending time with yourself getting to know yourself, uncovering more about your story, letting this new experience unfold!
Best wishes, take good care of yourself!
i have never before shared my story, at least, not in this way. when i was a child i used to attempt to reach out to friends and family members, but, of course, i got the whole “of course they love you!” thing. i can’t tell you how unsettled i was for the rest of the day. i just finally had to tell myself to stop thinking about it. as an acon i am very private and wary. i never just open up this way, but, maybe i’m just tired of turning my story around over and over in my own mind, and just wanted to tell someone else. as you know, there are so few people you can tell. that’s the thing about narcissists. they dump all their shit on you, then leave you all alone to deal with it.
well, i’m glad it made sense, and thanks for the compliments! i am often inspired by what you write as well. especially “being the child of narcissists-breaking the silence”. i often return to that one. yeah, i totally get the relief when they’re hating you thing. my favorite times as a child were whenever my parents were not around. as a teen, i used to love weekend nights, after they’d gone to bed. i’d go downstairs and have the whole lower level of the house to myself. i’d get a snack, turn on mtv, and just breathe. just relax. i’d just revel in the expansiveness of the room. my personality could stretch out. my true self could come out of hiding. i didn’t have to pretend. i didn’t have to shrink. my mother’s personality is such that, she doesn’t even really have to say or do anything for you to know something’s off about her. there’s so much in her gestures and in the way she looks at you. my friends were afraid of her. they were literally afraid to come to my house. they’d tell me, ” i don’t want to come to your house. your mother doesn’t like me.”. when my friends came over, my mother never said much more than “hello” and “goodbye” to them. but, they picked up on it. her n presence is that stifling. you immediately want to censor yourself. be on your best behavior. whatever you think she thinks “best behavior” is. it used to unsettle me to even look at a photo of my mother. when i began learning about npd, i took down the photos of her and my father i had in my home. it sounds crazy, but, it’s true. have you ever read white oleander? my mother’s presence is a lot like that of the mother in that book. the daughter often talks about how she has to shrink to fit into her mother’s world. i think, at one point, she refers to her as “beautiful and terrifying”. that’s my mother.
well, thanks for allowing me to vent and for your responses. that’s an intriguing point about their love and hate. maybe that’s how their minds work. their hate is their love. geez, what a mindf**k. do you ever just marvel at the fact that you can still function at all? i’m proud of myself when i think of it that way.
thanks again! take care!
When I first started to share my story on my blog… it freaked me out to do that, especially as I hadn’t done it in a long time due to my experiences of having tried earlier in life. I kind of settled into the notion that no one gave a toss, and if they asked me about myself they didn’t actually want to hear my real story.
I’d gone through a long phase of not sharing my story at all with others, of staying silent and deflecting personal questions, of gilding the lily with what I thought suited people, what they’d be comfortable with and what wouldn’t disrupt them.
The way I shared on my blog in the early stages was very stilted. I blurred details and facts because I was worried about revealing too much and exposing myself that way. My earliest posts are rather confusing. I was still trying to hide.
Then a couple of my posts, the ones in which I shared more and more openly, got a bit of attention… which scared me a lot… but the responses were amazing, encouraged me to tell my story more openly, with less anxiety, because my story wasn’t only my story, it connected with, and sometimes told, the story which others, like me, were living, had lived. There are so many of us who have grown up with narcissist parents, and so many of us who have kept quiet about it, thought we were alone, felt what we have felt and suppressed it.
It’s been a very liberating experience, I’ve learned a lot by doing it, especially doing it publicly (and terrifying myself in the process), and I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by what has happened. I’m used to expecting the worst and having the better occur is still something which challenges me in a good way. There’s a power to telling your story, a strange almost magic quality to it. Blogging has helped in ways that I really don’t understand. Especially with recent events in my life, my parents returning and causing chaos after years of NC.
And others sharing their stories with me here, has been truly and deeply life changing. Thank you 🙂
Keep exploring, learning and trying new perspectives and options – let yourself expand and feel you taking up that space as you did when you had the lower floor all to yourself – let that moment and what it meant and means inspire you now!
I’m not an avid reader by Charles Dickens is probably my favourite author. I know you read quite a bit, but could you narrow down to just one fav? I also learned long ago that when somone says, “Trust me”.. Don’t.
I pretty much think I have nardar by now, and I see you as far too empathetic to have NPD. I also don’t think narcs are shy as you refer yourself as, and your writings have no purpose or pursuit, other than to just enjoy and share. It’s just sad they’re incurable. I would honestly rather have any disability than to be malignant. But then again, be careful.. How do you gauge if a troll has come into your site?
One of the things which is often required of those dealing with narcissists is to be more aware of your interactions, to be more conscious of yourself and of the other person, to be more careful in your listening, to hear what is being actually said, by you and by them, of what you say, of what they say in conversations, to be more present and to remember.
Narcissists can have an entire conversation and interaction with you, it can be intense and they can pretend to be on the same page as you, even do the whole – omg we love the same thing! – and then they forget it all, can do it all over again as though it’s the first time and what happened before never happened.
I’ve already told you what my fav book is, and you said it was your fav book too, so you should be able to recall it. You also keep asking me other questions about narcissists, which I keep answering, again and again. You seem to get it, and then you seem to forget it. I realise it is hard to keep track of things, that your experience of a narcissist is still new and painfully fresh to you, that before this narcissist you never realised people like this existed, and it’s easy to get lost in the confusion of it, of everything it stirs up each time you ride on their roller coaster, each time something they do sets you back when you thought you’d made progress.
Just keep things simple for yourself, stay focused on your life and what needs attention, beware of trying to distract yourself from the pain – the sooner you face the pain, the easier it will be to move on.
My fav book is irrelevant. Don’t worry about having narcissist radar either. Don’t worry about whether they can get better or not. Or other things like that. Don’t focus on the narcissist in your life. Focus on taking care of yourself and learning from the experience. What you leanr, and really learn from this will benefit what comes next for you. A relationship with a narcissist can make our relationships with others better because we learn to be better listeners, more understanding and less demanding. Narcissists teach us to be less narcissistic and healthier in our relationships, but only if we’re willing to learn from our experience.
Kim’s blog is really a good resource for matters pertaining to romantic relationships with narcissists – http://letmereach.com/ – she’s got some brilliant posts on her blog which are very helpful.
Many people get addicted to the drama a narcissist offers. Life without them and their drama can seem boring. It helps to be aware of our own part in the relationship with a narcissist. Get to know yourself, it’s an important part of healing.
I think your favourite book is by Andy. I’ve subscribed to his blog. I’m not sure I recall your favourite author. I’m sorry but I was drinking pretty heavily for some time. I’m over her, and focusing on me. I just don’t understand what I’m dealing with and especially how to deal with it. It’s taken this long to get this far in the process, and she continues coming back. Now she’s emailed numerous times, wanting to see me. Just entirely and completely confusing. Thanks for everything.
As you know, I was married to narcissist – I think. Maybe it was just me. 😉 He would very unlikely to Google narcissism because he’s so completely unselfaware. He’s also amazingly naive at times,too. He believes himself to be so far ahead of the rest of us that to his way of thinking, it’s impossible for him to ever be hookwinked or to even just get something wrong. I just recently reviewed my divorce file and realized how easily I got away with some maneuvering that I actually learned how to do from him. He later accused me of having tricked him, which is true, but when he behaved that way, it was strategy! It’s funny how I sort of became a narcissist in order to get rid of one (and in fact worried that I was one – still do sometimes). Thinking about his behaviour and my reaction to it actually kind of makes me feel the way I did when I was married to him – sort of verging on madness and at the very least in a hyper-state of confusion and sadness. Yuck. It’s important to remember it, though. A very thought-provoking post. 🙂
Thank you very much 🙂
Considering the knowledge which you have about narcissism and the stories you have related of your relationship with your ex, it sounds as though he was indeed a narcissist. You know that.
The self-questioning tends to be something people who are not narcissists do, and it is often one of the reasons narcissists get away with what they do for longer than they might if non-narcissists were as narcissistic as narcissists.
Sometimes the fact that we are behaving narcissistically may inform us that we’re in a relationship with a narcissist. They have an uncanny way of bringing out the narcissist in others, all their negativity has a way of rubbing off, they’re always accusing others of doing what they do, thinking what they think, feeling what they are feeling, and being the way they are, if you listen to their constant ‘truth’ about yourself, you may end up believing it.
If our own narcissistic behave shocks us, makes us self-reflect and seek to change, then we’re not narcissists.
And frankly when dealing with a narcissist, particularly in certain scenarios, it may be the most effective recourse to do to them what they do to you. Fight fire with fire, because that’s the only thing which they understand and you may actually get through to them that you’re not playing their games anymore. As long as you’re aware of it, it won’t become a constant. Just something used when they push you into a corner.
The experience, all of it, is worth understanding.
i tried to comment on this a few days ago…i guess it didn’t post. it amazes me how similar all our acon experiences are, as you said. i did the same…just went silent, assuming no one cared how i was really feeling. gave everyone pat answers. saved my true self only for me. i had a journal as a teen, but, i wrote in code just in case my parents found it, as you did in your early blog. i think that maybe that’s at least part of the reason why some acons do not become full-blown narcissists themselves. somehow, we knew to not completely discard our selves. we just hid our selves. in my case, perhaps it was the “gift” of being the scapegoat. the abuse was just so blatant, and unwarranted, and constant, it had to be bullshit. not that it’s easy for scapegoats (it certainly is not) to finally arrive at that conclusion, but, sometimes it’s the narcissist’s own game plan that plants the “this isn’t real” seed in the minds of their victims. who knows? anyway, it does help to get it out, and, it helps tremendously to read and hear other peoples’ stories. and to receive very helpful responses! thank you, too!:)
ursula, this was supposed to be a response to your last response to me.
WordPress has quite a few technical glitches, and it sometimes does bizarre things with comments, it duplicates them, loses them, doesn’t quite get them, puts them in spam (I checked and your comment wasn’t there, but I did find two from other people which were placed there).
I’m sorry it lost your comment, but I’m glad you commented again 🙂
It’s uncanny how similar the stories of ACoNs are. One of the first blogs I came across, quite a few years ago when there were only a few blogs dealing with the subject, by an ACoN, a woman whose mother was a narcissist, floored me how much she described my mother when she described her own, and how exactly she described my experience, feelings, thoughts, when she shared her own. She put into words my own story by telling hers, and at that time I was still in silent mode about it.
I’d been NC for a while, and I just didn’t want to discuss things because I had no words to do that, although I had read quite a bit about it, but mostly psychology books on it. Andy White’s was the best I’d read, and his description of the Devouring Mother and Absent Father fit my parents perfectly, explained a lot for me about them and myself, but I was still in a fog about the PTSD of it, and other aspects of how we’re affected by them.
I was also rather fed up with the story, and there was a part of me which just wanted to get amnesia and find out who I’d be if I didn’t know who I was, what I had experienced and could not remember that I had my parents (but the danger of that was I might try to have a relationship with them and so the whole rigmarole would begin again). I wrote a story a long time ago for myself about a women who gets amnesia and finally discovers herself as she is, free from all the baggage of her past. I did it as an experiment to try to get to know myself better – my parents were very much a part of my life then and I was slowly being suffocated by their endless BS dramas.
I kept trying an old tactic of cutting myself off from my past to learn how to be healthy with a blank slate, start from scratch approach. If everything my parents taught me was unhealthy then I needed to scratch that and discover what was healthy – this is called ‘reparenting’ in the ACoN lexicon. That had helped in some ways, it aided me in breaking old patterns, but it was just a bandaid in other ways.
It’s true narcissists do indeed plant the seed of ‘this isn’t real’ in our minds. Sometimes they come right out and tell you exactly who they are and what they’re doing – they don’t necessarily know they’re doing that and giving the game away. Narcissist parents often do it when teaching their children about the world outside of the family unit, about ‘outsiders’. My father was always pointing out the games he played with other people. They sometimes do the ‘this isn’t real’ with things which are real, and nothing ever feels real around them, about them, or about yourself because it’s all castles made of sand and the wind keeps blowing.
There is a real self within us, and I think the scapegoat gets to stay in touch with their real self more easily than the golden child because the scapegoat is more aware that they’re in a survival situation and need to protect their core if they can.
I find it interesting that so many ACoNs are telling their story now, that so many people are figuring out that their parents are narcissists, and that we’re all finding each other, sharing our stories and making connections in so many ways. We are seeing the dawning of something new, and we’re part of it!
Comments are closed.