Have you ever used the phrase – It’s not you, it’s me – and did you mean it when you used it?
Did you really think it was you and not the other person?
Or did you actually think – It’s you and not me – but you did not want to confront the other person with it being about them and not you.
You took responsibility for being the problem in the relationship to make things easier for yourself – you were future problem solving in a preemptive manner. Perhaps you were concerned about how they would react when you accused them of being the problem, or you knew exactly how they would react, perhaps because they are a narcissist and they would turn one problem into a saga of drama, piling problem upon problem until it looks and feels like a real life game of Jenga which always topples over onto you.
You were trying to avoid playing a blame game, or another of the games people play (this link takes you to Eric Berne’s website which explains some of the games people play in relationships) by blaming yourself.
That’s a habit which those who spend time in Narcville tend to do, because whatever it is, it is always your fault whether it is or not. Breaking that habit is difficult if you grew up with narcissists, or have lived a long time with one in your life up close and personal. It’s so much easier to accept all the blame and let them get away with whatever they’re doing than try to make them accountable for even a small portion of the problem.
This is often the narcissist’s calling card:
I was taught to play a version of the ‘If it weren’t for you…’ (IWFY) game by my parents. This is one of the games which narcissists play, and my parents played it all the time with each other, with me, with other people, with society, and with the world in general.
It’s a blame game which is used by one person to justify why they don’t do something which they often claim and may believe they desire to do, but they don’t actually want to do it, although that reluctance may be subconscious, so they use someone else as the reason why they can’t do it.
Eric Berne classifies it as a marital game played between a restricted wife and a domineering husband:
“The aim of IWFY may be stated as either reassurance – It’s not that I’m afraid, it’s that he won’t let me – or vindication – It’s not that I’m not trying, it’s that he holds me back. “
However, a game like that can be played by anyone taking on the role of the restricted one due to the domineering one, and anyone can be given the role of the domineering one – they don’t actually have to be domineering, although it helps if they are, to be placed in that role because that part is just there to complement and support the one playing the restricted leading role.
My mother used to play this one with me when I was a child – If it wasn’t for me she would have left my father a long time ago, she wouldn’t be stuck in a dead end marriage, she would be free, single, she would have a career, be successful, be famous, be happy. She also blamed my father for all of that too, and she blamed society for it too due to the conventional view of gender roles at the time. If it wasn’t for everyone else she’d be who she wanted to be and have everything she wanted to have.
She would also use that game to blame me for why she and my father hated each other – I had ruined their marriage by being born, it was perfect until I made it a crowd of three.
However, she also liked to boast about how sneaky she had been in order to have me, that she had deliberately gotten pregnant, kept it a secret until it was too late to do anything about it, because she knew my father did not want children, and since their relationship had gone from bad to worse she decided that having a child would fix things between them. In her words – I thought having a child would make your father and me less selfish.
Someone recently commented on one of my old posts – Men Are Stronger Than Women – wherein I related a story from my childhood about a lesson in gender issues I learned at school, not in class but through social interaction. It is a bit of a meh post, I’d forgotten about it, and would probably delete it when I eventually get around to tidying up this blog. The best bit about it on rereading it, is that it shows how manipulative I was as a child. It highlights my own narcissistic tendencies – which is always interesting to observe and of which to be aware.
The comment this person made is reasonable, valid, they were not antagonistic or aggressive, and they make some fair points, although they seemed to me to have misunderstood what I was saying (which happens a lot to me – then again maybe I misunderstood what they were saying, that also happens a lot to me). They seemed to suggest that I was putting women down and bigging up men, therefore aiding the subjugation of females by males. Which was not what I thought I was saying (but maybe I misunderstood myself).
In my own experience, when it comes to undermining the confidence of females, women are better at doing that than men are, perhaps because when your own gender puts you down they know exactly where to hit you because females know the weak spots of females better than males do, and you take it more to heart because if a women tells you something is wrong with you, then it must be true.
Growing up female you learn quickly to be wary of males, to not trust them, to beware of their intentions, what they say, what they may want to do to you, what they’re thinking and feeling. It’s often a male, like your father, who warns you as a female to be careful with and of men. Your mother is most likely to make that one of your first lessons too – never trust a man – and she may teach that repeatedly as she criticises your father and tells you how much she has suffered because of him and his gender.
As my mother did – my mother was a misandrist, she hated men, and wasn’t shy about it. She was also a misogynist – women can be that too, and when they are, they do it better than men because you don’t expect it from a woman, and it’s also more subtle. They hate you with a smile, bat their eyelashes while tearing you to pieces, and tell you that what they are doing is for your own good, they’re teaching you to be a better female as they are.
As a female you’re not as quick to learn to be wary of other females, sometimes you trust them because they’re female, because in theory you should be safe in their company.
My mother saw herself as the ultimate mother. And she saw me as the means to prove that to herself, and to all and sundry. She did this in many ways, because a narcissist is flexible like that.
She liked to tell others that I was a monster, a hideously deformed tumor which had grown inside of her and almost killed her, but she had prevailed, and had loved this tumor-child in spite of the challenges which it posed, despite its birth ruining her life, and many other wonderful truths which narcissists tell to make themselves seem like angels who have incarnated in human form to bless the lowly world.
It took me a long time to realise what she was telling other people about me. Perhaps because I didn’t want to know due to having a hard enough time trying to deal with what she was telling me about myself.
Once upon a teenage life, I was at a friend’s house, sitting at the table in her kitchen, chatting about this and that, when my friend’s mother suddenly said to me out of the blue – You’re going to be beautiful when you are older. I was shocked, and lost my manners for a moment, I challenged the statement – Why would you say something like that!?! My friend’s mother smiled, understanding my dilemma, and simply said – I just thought you needed to know that.
Later that day, when I returned to my home, I made the mistake of relating this event to my mother because I was still rattled by it, I was almost confident, and almost had a grasp of self-esteem. She immediately told me that my legs were crooked, and reassured me that I was as ugly as I thought I was, and there would be no miracle cure for me. I would never be beautiful, therefore never loved, as I had my father’s genes and unfortunately his had somehow won over hers – which means she’d always be the fairest of us all, a dainty queen amongst barbarian trolls.
No one would ever love me, I was too ugly and awful to be loved, but that’s okay because she would love me unconditionally as that’s what saintly martyr mothers do. It’s their burden, their job.
She used to tell me that she loved talking to me, confiding in me (and doing it all the time, never shutting up), because I was a great listener. What she actually said was – Talking to me was like talking to a wall, and she liked bouncing things off of me as I was a great flat surface which gave her balls a lot of bounce.
She said that as though it was the most generous compliment she could ever give me, and I should be eternally grateful to her for it because I wasn’t good at anything else. She was showing me what was special about me.
Narcissists have a way of doing that…
If I ever refused to listen to her when she wanted to talk (and she wanted to talk pretty much all the time, unless she was giving me the silent treatment, and even then… she talked to others), then she would punish me for my insolence.
One time I went for a walk. She insisted on accompanying me even though (and perhaps because) I made it clear that I wanted to be alone, but she got bored after a mile and wanted to return home. I wanted to keep going (even though I knew that was a crime in her eyes), and that time I did keep going. When I returned from my walk…
She was lying in bed, her arm bandaged, and a doctor was in her room. He looked at me with suspicion, and indirectly accused me of physically abusing my mother. He’d have accused me directly if she, as a victim of my abuse, had not been so stoic, so used to my abuse that she accepted it as though she deserved it, made excuses for me, and such.
Apparently after I kept going my mother fell off of her fashionable shoes and broke her wrist breaking her fall. This was my fault for leaving her alone. I had physically abused her… by not being physically there for her for a couple of hours.
Those couple of hours were blissful to me… I knew I would have to pay for that!
Are narcissists aware of what they’re doing? – is a question which is often asked, more so when people have just discovered they’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist and everything about the interaction comes into question. What was real and what was not? Was any of it real? Did they ever love you or was it all an act?
In my opinion, based on my own experience with narcissists (therefore this is personal not professional), some narcissists (covert ones) are completely oblivious to what they are doing and others (overt ones) are more aware but their awareness is narcissistic therefore it is not the same kind of awareness that a non-narcissist has and considers to be awareness.
Both the oblivious and the aware narcissist share a common perspective – Whatever they did to you is your fault, you asked for it, you provoked them. They are doing to you what you did to them (sometimes before you do it to them – they’re psychic like that), or they’re protecting themselves from what you’ve done and are doing to them.
“So what do narcissists do differently from regular folk? There are a few things, not all of which are immediately obvious. For one thing, they may actually talk about themselves less…
…it’s far more likely that narcissists would use the word ‘you’ because they blame people for everything and rarely take responsibility for their actions. It always about what you did. ‘I-talk’ isn’t going to help much because not all narcissists like talking about themselves anyway. We’re used to the expression ‘it’s always me me me’ and immediately associate it with narcissism… Nothing could be further from the truth.”
My experience of my relationship with my mother has made me rather odd in my relationships with women.
Explaining this is complex and may creep you out (as it often creeped me out) – there were times when I had the impression that my mother wanted me to be her replacement husband.
She was frigid, so no sex or any form of physical contact was desired by her. She hated even hugging me – yuck!
My father, her husband, was always disappointing her expectations of him which had a domino effect of destroying her persona as his wife, the woman behind the man (an important aspect of her generation), and other things she saw herself as being for him (without her he would be a nobody!), and that was something she told me about constantly – many of her rages directed at me were about him, triggered by her disappointments with him – his fault = my fault = never her fault.
I reminded her of him, I looked like him, I had his mannerisms, his this and that when it suited her… she punished me instead of him, because he could fight back (if I fought back, and I did try because I was stupid like my father, I paid for it in triplicate – by the power of 3X3 – because I didn’t have the power my father had over her). He was also a narcissist.
I had to be her improved version of him for her. Take her out to restaurants, buy her flowers and romantic gifts, woo her, and make her feel like a man makes a woman feel when the man is admiring a female – without the inconveniences of my actually being a man and wanting anything in return for my services.
What I was never allowed to be was myself – me being me was a waste of space and time, a terrible thing to be. This triggered my version of the ‘If it weren’t for you…’ game.
If it weren’t for my mother, my father… I could be myself. I would have been normal, happy, self confident, have self esteem, a career (which I had chosen for myself), a life that was my own (rather than belonged to them), friends (because you can’t have friends around narcissists), and so on. If it wasn’t for them I would not have been a screwed up mess.
The problem with a game like that is it becomes a prison of false hope, the Chateau d’If (which was an actual prison on an island used as a setting in a book – The Count of Monte Cristo – which featured the IWFY game being played). The land of lost dreams which you mourn, a weighty world of if onlies, if it weren’t for them, for that… and rather than doing something about it you make excuses for why there is no point doing anything, you’re too crippled, too paralysed by fear, too far gone into failure, too messed up… it’s a hard habit to break because there is truth in it, but it is also riddled with lies.
My mother trained me to be male more than female, as she didn’t like being female or other females. She saw femininity as a weakness, and… was intensely envious of women who embraced their femininity and liked being female – How dare they! They were making things worse for other women (her) by being feminine!
But she also hated women who had embraced their masculine side, that was wrong too.
The only right female to walk the Earth was her.
Basically, like most narcissists she hated everyone, because she hated herself, but pretended she was love personified and loved herself. She saw herself as superior, and everyone should admire her for it, aspire to be like her… but fail miserably if they tried.
She was good because others were bad. She was heaven because others were hell. It was never her fault because the fault was yours.
My mother was sugar and spice and all things nice, that’s what little girls who want to be boys and never grow up are made of. She saw herself as compassionate like Mother Theresa with the looks of Princess Diana and the guts of Margaret Thatcher, but she was doing what they did before they did it (maybe they were inspired by her – no, they weren’t but she often thought things like that and said so) – that’s a narcissist’s view of themselves, they always were doing it first if it’s viewed as being good, heroic, original, wonderful, popular, etc, by others. If it is viewed as being bad then it has nothing to do with them.
She was a saint, martyr, the epitome of random acts of kindness towards all the lowly people whom she pitied due to her being so generous with her sympathy, sensitivity and empathy that knew no bounds.
If she was mean to you, that was tough love because you were being a pussy and pussy-whipped. Or she wasn’t being mean to you – you were being mean to her. And that is that, don’t argue or talk back to her as that only proves her point.
Some women, the covert narcissist kind, find me attractive because… I behave a bit like a man but I’m not a man, which means I’m feminine style sensitive to their needs while not expecting them to be sensitive to mine male style, I admire their beauty and don’t compete with them, keep my mouth shut and let them talk, and talk, and talk – bouncing their balls off of my wall.
I have been asked if I’m a lesbian on many occasions, by lesbians, by non-lesbians, by a few men, but mostly by women who think I’m in love with them because they expect that kind of thing, and because of the way I behave – not like a typical female.
Have you ever experienced one of those moments when the phrase – It’s not you, it’s me – hits you like a wrecking ball shattering your perception of yourself as being the ‘normal’ one?
Maybe you said it not meaning it, but then… or maybe someone else said it and you heard it the other way around because people often use that phrase to mean – it’s you and not me but I’m saying it’s me because it’s you and you’re a pain in the behind.
Either way… Self reflection kicked in and kicked you in the gut…
Have you ever been creeped out by someone else, only to later realise that the reason you thought they were creepy is because they thought you were creepy, and their creepy behaviour was due to how you were affecting them with what they thought was your creepy behaviour?
Have you ever thought of yourself as being creepy? Too strange for this world? Too weird to be around other people (for their safety, of course)?
Have you ever had a moment of realising that you’re not as creepy, strange, weird, awkward as you thought you were, and that the reason you thought that about yourself is because you were surround by creepy weirdos who made your non-creepy weirdo seem odd?
Have you ever realised that – It’s not me, it’s the other person… and yet… perhaps it’s not as simple as that?
If it wasn’t for my mother, and my father, if it wasn’t for the narcissists in my life and growing up in Narcville… perhaps I would be normal and be who other people want me to be for them, say what they want me to say to please them, do what they want me to do to make them feel right about what they do, instead of being a creepy weirdo who thinks it is okay to express my views the way that I do come what may…
If it wasn’t for them, maybe I’d not be so rebellious… maybe I’d be a member of society as I should be rather than a bit of a little match girl…
…because when your daily bread as a child and an adult was the awful truth about yourself, and nothing you did or said or were was ever right for anyone else, at some point you stop giving a shit and just go with being authentic… whatever that is.
Gosh, I’ve talked a lot… over to you. What do you think?