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Do Narcissists Know They are Narcissists? November 11, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
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“The Scorpion and the Frog” by artist Jake Beckman @akajake.com

Someone recently commented –  it was more of a rant actually. The person said that since Narcissists don’t know what they’re doing, it’s rather “mid-evil” (yes, that was the spelling) to hold them accountable for their actions. They went on to say that being critical of Narcissists should make us take a long look in the mirror at ourselves. How dare we be so judgemental toward those who know no better? To their thinking, this made the victims of a Narcissist no better than the Narcissist themselves. I heartily disagree.

Although I enjoy the dialogue with my readers, the tone of the comment was so confrontational, I felt a sense of relief as I hit the Delete button, (and I can count on one hand the times I’ve done this.)

How ironic that only days later I came across “You Probably Think this Paper’s About You: Narcissist’s Perceptions of their Personality and Reputation,” a peer-reviewed article published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 2011 that addresses this very question. Does a Narcissist recognize their own narcissism and how it interferes with their life? FYI: We’re talking Pathological Narcissists here, Malignant Narcissists, or Clinical Narcissists, as the researchers refer to them. These are not your garden variety of narcissists – blowhards who dominate the conversation and enter the room with an implicit “TADA”!)

It took me several days to wade through the paper as it reactivated my PTSD from taking a statistics class. So, if you’re not up for the read, here’s the gist of the article. (To read the research paper in its entirety, hit the above link and then press on the Free PMC Article feature.)

“Lack of insight is believed to be a hallmark of narcissism…” begins the paper. When it comes to Narcissists’ self-insight, there are two competing views.

The Narcissist Ignorance view argues that narcissists, ” lack insight into their personality and reputation and overestimate how positively others see them.” This is akin to “ignorance is bliss.”

The Narcissistic Awareness view, however, finds that narcissists do have insight into their personality and reputation. The researchers predicted that ultimately the Narcissistic Awareness view is correct. (Bold type is mine.) Narcissists tend to recognize some of their own narcissistic traits but are more likely to see these negative qualities in a positive light. They’re masters of spin.

The Narcissistic Awareness model finds that although narcissists are likely to make a positive first impression, even the narcissist realizes that over time others do not view their performance as positive as their own self-perception.

This provides one reason why Narcissists continually seek out new people to impress. They know from experience that as people get to know them, their impression of the N will not be as positive.

“Narcissists’ failure to pursue long-term relationships and friendships may reflect their awareness that only new acquaintances see them in a positive light.”

Ultimately, “Narcissists understand that others do not see them as positively as they see themselves. Second, they understand that their reputation is more positive in a first impression context than among people who know them well. Third, narcissists describe themselves and their reputation as narcissistic.” (But they don’t necessarily view this as a bad thing.)

Narcissists have a degree of self-awareness. It’s just that they don’t/won’t change.

So even if you are clinging to the idea that a Narcissist behaves badly because they don’t know any better, you need to get your head out of your arse. Too many women (in particular) believe they are The One who can help the N see the err of their ways – only to find themselves ultimately cast aside, chastised for daring to think they had anything to offer so someone so great. Think The Scorpion and the Frog.

If you haven’t heard this tale, I’ll make it short. A scorpion asks a frog for a ride across the river. The frog knows the scorpion could sting him, so he declines. The scorpion reassures the frog. After all, if the scorpion stings the frog then they’d both drown. This seems logical, so the frog agrees to ferry the scorpion across the river. Halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog, who cries, “Why did you do that? Now we’ll both die?” The scorpion’s reply? “I couldn’t help myself. It’s just my nature.”

Know this about Narcissists. It’s just their nature. Don’t be stung again.

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Comments»

1. rebecca2000 - November 11, 2012

Of course they don’t. Me entire blog is based around societies need for narcissism. It seems to be a new breed of people born through the internet. Great post. :)

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2. Tracy - November 12, 2012

“This provides one reason why Narcissists continually seek out new people to impress. They know from experience that as people get to know them, their impression of the N will not be as positive.”

Actually, they do have long-term friendships, but these tend to be with people who they don’t often see. Makes it easier for them to keep up the charade. These are the people that either fawn over the supposed achievements of the N since last they met up (which are all lies, as we know)- or they are people the N can use for some other self-serving purpose. I know this, because my N had/has this pattern.

“…The person said that since Narcissists don’t know what they’re doing…”

Oh, they know what they’re doing, all right… Controlling their pathological behaviour is another issue. If the N can control their abuse of a target, in the presence of others (whom they wish to impress), then that pretty much goes to show that they are self-aware when it suits them.

That person who wrote to you, Jan, is an idiot (and the “mid-evil” bit made me lol).

Tracy,
On Halycon, it’s said it IS possible to have a long-term relationship with a Narcissist, but what’s required is distance and only intermittent contact. Hardly the makings of a real relationship. Yes, I had to laugh at “mid-evil” too. I began to think I misread it. Maybe “mid-evil” is halfway along the continuum of evil?
Your comment is appreciated as always. Hope all is well in your end of the world. :) Jan

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Layla - November 24, 2012

I had an 11 year long distance relationship with a man I now know was a narcissist. I figured this out after my “discarding” two months ago for the woman he “started dating” several weeks before he ended it with me. So yes, it is possible when you only see them a couple times a year…and fawn all over them when you do.

I think what was the beginning of the inevitable end for us was when he bought a house where he lives and started remodeling it all himself (because no contractor was good enough of course) and I would comment and criticize things as it went along.

That lead to his statement that “we really didn’t have anything in common”.

I was supposed to go out and try being with him for a couple months right about now. And the thought of that was not pleasing to him either. She already lives there and has her own place.

I’ve never met her but I’ve emailed her a couple articles on NPD. Would I have listened if someone told me 11 years ago? I don’t know. She’s never gotten back to me….no doubt thinks she’s the one to fix him.

It’s made the end a little easier somehow knowing it was predestined to happen. Sounds strange but its helped me knowing what he has. But I am angry about 11 years lost to him.

Layla,
Eleven years is a long time to be in a long-distance relationship with anyone, Narcissist or not. I was just thinking that many women have a “long distance” relationship for years and they’re actually living in the same house as the N! After the Idealization Phase and the D&D begins, they’re can’t help but wonder why they can do no right no matter how hard they try. I do understand how it helps to know that ultimately there’s nothing YOU could have done to prevent the demise of the relationship (short of moving further away and never venturing an opinion). But again, that’s NOT a real relationship. You don’t even know if this is the first woman he has been with (since this was a long distance relationship). You’ve done all you can do by sending along information. This woman may have a house, but she’ll never have a home with this man AND she has the D&D to look forward to. It ALWAYS comes. Hopefully, she’ll pull up those emails you sent and realize that her “fixer upper” is actually a tear down. Jan

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lesley - November 29, 2012

Hi Layla,
Reading about your awful discard I second what others are saying to you here…
However,your ability to feel acute sadness at what happened is what sets you miles apart from this guy..
As adults and caring people we have expectations that any relationship ending will be preceded by discussion or reciprocal acknowledgement.Narcs see only their own needs and wishes.
They exit stage left,off to find another’prop’ to use in their own repeat drama.In my experience they do this quickly and without compunction.The fact that your guy had the next woman’lined up’ is typical as above all they hate to be alone.
Your post also gave me insight into my own situation and how it’s improving positively.I think of my ex less and less these days but want to be sure that before I move on to another relationship that there is no longer any shadow of him blighting my life.This would be unfair to any new person and a legacy I will not allow my ex to have!
The quickfire’All change’ of the Narc only stores up problems for them in later life. Most research indicates that they get more isolated and depressed with age,perhaps without ever working to change or fully understand this?
I’m attaching a link to a recent article on Baggage Reclaim.(Jan links this on left) which may help and seemed so pertinent to you,
Best Wishes for you Layla,

http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/overlappers-when-they-start-a-new-relationship-just-before-your-breakup/?

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Layla - December 18, 2012

Just reading everybody’s comments on my first post and wanted to update.

After I sent her the articles I had back surgery. Come home that night to a message to call a police officer in CO. Seems the Narc got her to file a complaint with the police and they asked me to stop contacting her. I figured out the Narc was behind it as the officer read me my address and she would not have had that. I had given her my phone number to call if she wanted to talk.

So, don’t try to be helpful and warn people as they 1) won’t believe you as he’s sucked them in already and 2) the N is already labeling you, the ex, as crazy and they will be vindictive.

I will say that I composed my thoughts and sent a followup snail mail to the PO telling him my side of the story and filling him in on the Narc’s having been written up twice at work and sent to anger mgt. for threatening to kill co-workers, told him about a restraining order his ex wife had taken out on him, and told him he had legal firearms including a rifle. This was before the shootings last week and now I’m glad I did it even if it comes to nothing.

I figured they live in a small town and if the PO knows the new gf even as a friend he will keep an eye on him.

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3. lesley - November 14, 2012

Hey Jan,
Considering the shell-shocked people that a Narc leaves behind then your ‘Ranter’ has much to learn and hopefully reflect upon.
Do they know they are Narcissists? In my experience ‘Yes’,however they operate as if in denial…
If you consider the pattern of most Narcs lives,they,despite clear intelligence,verbal dexterity and even charm return to the same relationship cul-de-sac and continual dead end? Yet…there is no pause for reflection,no – ‘What might I have done wrong?’
The narcissist’s imperative is to shift blame and in effect start again,in romantic life,work,friendships and family.
They refuse to do the groundwork on themselves because in a life of ‘Impression Management’ then First Impressions are all!
The work it takes most of us to build meaningful relationships is fraught with dangers to a Narc…far better to cut and run…and start again.
Even the working life of a Narc or cluster B shows the extent of their awareness.
As people users and manipulators of power they have to know how to come out on top.Their strategies are well-rehearsed never accidental.
I believe through my own experience with a Somatic Narc that the depression of the Narc in middle age,the superficiality of their friendships and the sense of alertness/stress they feel when anyone gets too close is proof that on some level they are aware of the consequences of their actions.
Do they want to do anything about it? Not really.
For a Somatic Narc instant gratification in terms of sex,power or attention suffices and sadly always will suffice.
Reason?As Jan says…The need to ‘sting’ first.
The Jury’s not out for me. Sadly I think they know.

Light Shine,
Les

Les,
Everything you said is spot on. Impression Managers – so true! I witnessed the N on several occasions “reflect” on how he’d charmed a salesperson or how he thought he’d impressed a group of total strangers. People he’d met only in passing were quickly “friends.” There was a rather desperate and sad aspect to it as he HAD been told that he had “issues. On some level, he knew all was not right, but he had no interest in real introspection…or changing. What others thought were negative personality traits, he viewed as positives! THey’re are masters of delusion. Those with NPD believe what they want to believe and if you say otherwise, well, you’re obviously the crazy one. Always, Jan

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4. Lynette d'Arty-Cross - November 18, 2012

I very much appreciate this post and your additional comments, Tracy. Thanks!

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5. Catherine Sherman - November 20, 2012

I’m paraphrasing the saying for B*tch here: “You say I’m a Narcissist like that’s a bad thing.” If Ns realize that they are an N, they don’t always see it as a character flaw. After all, they are “special.”

So true. They often wear it as a badge of pride. Jan

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6. Tracy - November 28, 2012

Hi Layla,

I understand the “lost years”, but there’s nothing to be done now. I have found years lost have to be let go. Move on & let it go is all you can do if you want to stay sane.

I think that like me, you probably had some “unsettling feelings” about your N along the way, but chose to ignore or explain them away. Not that it matters- but I know how we get caught up in our lives & issues & sometimes we simply don’t have the energy to confront anything else. So, we keep going & hope things get better, yeah?

I originally hoped as you did- that I could warn the next victim, but I couldn’t. I did learn, though (friends of friends), that the new one was being treated the same. Basically it corroborated all I’d been through.

Count your blessings you’re free!

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7. T. AKA Ricky Raw - November 30, 2012

Hey Jan, great post! Thanks for finding and dissecting this study. It so got me thinking that instead of just writing a comment I dedicated a whole blog post to adding my thoughts. Let me know what you think:

http://therawness.com/the-self-awareness-of-the-narcissist/

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8. Source B - December 4, 2012

I became involved with a narcissistic woman online. We had known each other for a couple of years from a writing forum and we gradually became closer. I revealed my feelings for her; she revealed (astonishingly) the same feelings for me. She had moved from the UK to her family home back in Canada following her divorce, while I was still in the UK. We met up for a week in Nova Scotia and I knew, absolutely, that I was in love and had found the most incredible person.

We decided to try living together. I put my home on the market, borrowed money from my brother, and flew out to join her. We bought a small, rather tumbledown house together (80% me, 20% her). I finished up some stuff in the UK and then flew out. We both knew it was risky. There were a couple of red flags — but aren’t there always? I wasn’t really happy with her cruel sense of humour (I tend to the surreal/tangental) and some of her ‘hardline’ thinking, I thought, seemed to be rather damaging. She also said she needed everything to be ‘perfect’. I know perfection is impossible so I took this as being a bit of hyperbole.

We moved in together and had two good weeks, but by week 4 of living together, I could see that we were in trouble. My ex was constantly critical and demeaning. Sex and intimacy stopped completely, and she became all but unreachable. Everything devolved into a power game. I wasn’t allowed to talk to, or to touch her. She insulted me in front of her mother. Trust withered.

“So,” I asked one day, “we don’t eat together [she was very controlling about food], we don’t sleep together, we don’t kiss, we don’t talk, we don’t have fun. In what way is this a relationship?”

“Because I have you.”

Eeek.

Another conversation:

“I don’t understand it,” I said. “I understand needing self-control. But I don’t get why someone else wants to control another person.”

“Control,” she said, “is control.”

Eeek! EEEK!

I lasted 2 more months. I knew I had to return to the UK fairly soon because my London apartment wasn’t selling and I needed to work to defray its costs. Nonetheless, I tried to give us some more time. I suggested I could maybe borrow some more money from my brother and we might be able to try for another month or so.

“You’re either in a relationship, or you’re not!” she snapped, and stormed out.

“Well, duh,” I thought. “That’s what I’ve been wondering about this whole damned time.”

I returned to the UK, hurting very badly. I hoped we could be ‘friends’, and that we could say, ‘Okay, the relationship didn’t work … but we still had these other things in common and we liked being in touch…’ because when she was ‘on’, she was a very lively, joyous person to be around. I was still very wounded by things, but I thought, “Well, okay. That didn’t go so good, but if I can keep my friendship with her then it isn’t a complete, horrible, wounded, bleeding loss.”

I did some self-development work. Started writing more diligently. Started jogging, even. I felt good, healing.

2.5 months later she told me she was dating someone exclusively … and that stirred something up inside me. I knew intellectually that she would move on (she’s very much a ‘move on’ kind of person), and that she was dating, and a pretty big corner of my heart was happy at that. But it churned up a LOT of memories which I’d tried to glide over, instead of really processing them. All the mean things she’d said came back to me, all the affront, all the hurt, all the rejection, the great ‘flip’ from ‘Nice’ to ‘Nasty’. The emotional distance and laziness … .

Things got hard. And then harder. And then, in my drive to understand, I came across ‘narcissism’. I had a label now, a term I could use and understand so that I could get a handle on what the heck happened with this woman. I looked into abusive relationships and found out that, unmistakeably, I had been the victim of abuse.

So, that was useful. But I try to be fair — and that’s where it got really hard, because through my ‘development work’ and my deepening understanding of people, I found out that I, too, had behaved narcissistically in the relationship. Sure, things were hard … but did I *really* try to understand where she was coming from? When I touched her (say, in the kitchen, passing by), did I think she was being silly and mean to snap at me, or did she really feel oppressed and frightened? (I mean, I still don’t think I deserved to be punched in anger for it, but did I try to understand where she was coming from, instead of reacting merely woundedly?)

That was a horrible thing to discover. I’d seen myself as a 100% victim; maybe, on balance, it was more like 70% / 30 % victim … or maybe, horrifyingly, 50% / 50%.

This forced me to unravel. I couldn’t go through my life any more being anything like that. I had to grow, and to take deeper and better responsibility for my thoughts, feelings and actions, and I had to commit myself to being open and forgiving and less frightened and hurt. I committed myself to improving my relationship with my parents and turning it more into a peer-type thing, rather than another dominance game (from their side and, I now see, from mine). I didn’t want to be thoughtless and to hurt people, even accidentally, any more.

So … do narcissists know they are narcissists?

Probably not, at least at the time. But it is possible to try to be an honest narcissist, if you have some good values, and it’s possible to accept your faults and mistakes, and accept the faults and mistakes of others, and to seek forgiveness and hopefully to generate forgiveness in oneself.

I’ve gone “no contact” with my ex. I now understand that I never knew who she was. And that might be fair enough, because I realise that I never really knew who I was, either.

Source B,
“…and had two good weeks.” Yes, I’d say “Eek!” too. I was going to say this sounds like a slow moving train wreck, but it actually moved quite quickly once she “had” you. Unlike a N, you have taken care to consider your role in this debacle. Improving one’s relationship with parents can be difficult, but many of our adult hurts stem from the dynamics of our family of origin. The issue of control obviously was a sticking point for you, as it should have been.
I’m a little unclear when you say it’s unlikely that a narcissist knows they are a narcissist, but then go on to say “it is possible to be an honest narcissist…?” This is where you lost me. Narcissists are not honest with themselves, so that doesn’t give them a strong moral compass. Ultimately, their emotions are superficial when it comes to others….and especially themselves. It’s good that you are No Contact. As a writer, you need to write a new chapter in your life. :) Jan

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9. Mark - December 5, 2012

Planet Jan and these discussions about N’s were, for me, alarming but also liberating. I was left twisting in the wind after a passionate and loving (I thought) 7+ year relationship with a beautiful woman. The hurt and pain was overwhelming. But my state of complete confusion was even worse. It would take pages and pages to describe our 7 year relationship but I think the last few months sums it up pretty well. It went something like this: April, I proposed to her on our favorite beach in the Bahamas. While I was just finalizing a 5 year long bitter and painful divorce settlement, she said let’s really get engaged when the settlement is done. I said OK. Then in May together we picked out an engagement ring. The settlement now over. In June, we celebrated by taking our dream trip to Provence and Paris for a week, all first class of course. In July, we attended a good friends birthday party and had a wonderful evening and closed out the night with love making. Two weeks after that she was driving towards my house and asked if she could stop to chat. I immediately felt a chill run through me. She arrived at my home (we never actually lived together as she was a single Mom with a teenager daughter and there just wasn’t room for me) and asked if we could sit and chat. Then she dropped the bomb: “This relationship is just not working for me.” I was devastated and asked her why. Her response: “I just shut down.”

Previously I was married to a Borderline/N and we separated many years ago (and I moved 1500 miles away from her) because I could not take the emotional abuse. The book “The Invitation” along with therapy helped me to see the reality of being married to a Borderline. I finally pursued the divorce because I was living a double life and because our marriage was completely dysfunctional. I wanted my new love forever and ever and divorce was the key to getting my dream girl.

So all of those years of battling through the divorce to get my dream girl ended with me being discarded. The dream girl took my dream away. I know I played my role in this by over-loading the supply lines: buying her cars, fabulous clothes and jewelry, wonderful first class trips to Paris, Rome and other wonderful places. I have a huge box of letters and cards from her expressing her love and passion for me and our commitment to be together forever. There was no limit to what I was willing to do and did do to make her life comfortable and happy. I was the ultimate care taker.

Prior to me, 3 other guys fell for her and proposed to her too. While I lasted 3 times longer than the 3 previous victims, it was simply because the supply I afforded her was so vast. In the end it didn’t matter because I got thrown to the curb too. I spent the entire summer/fall trying to understand what happened to me. I admit that I fell into a codependency role and I take ownership of that. But the cruelty and ruthlessness of how she ended it, without closure, left me deeply shocked. All of our friend couples were shocked too. Nobody could figure out what happened. And during that break up chat I remember her saying, “I’m not gonna sit here and attack you.” Thus she was clearing blaming me for the failed relationship.

Her father was an N and treated her badly. She’s a beautiful woman and he would complain to her about why he should waste his hard earned money sending her to college when she just should be a model. So, the stage was set early in her teenage years. I get this part.

I’ll end by saying that until I found this series of blogs and Jan’s discussions, the hurt, pain and confusion continued full force. While the dull glow of pain persists, at least I now understand what happened to me. My thanks to everyone involved here for bringing clarity and hope back into my life. I know I have to let go of the rope but I cannot just flush away all the love I felt for this woman.

I’d also like to recommend a few other books that I found very helpful. 1. Coming Apart by Kingma 2. The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists by Payson 3. The Untethered Soul by Singer. Hope you find these books as helpful as I did.

Mark,
I (and readers) learn so much from each person who takes the time to comment/tell their story. I can’t help but think that being married to a Borderline “primed” you, so to speak, for a Narcissist (as Borderlines also have strong narcissistic traits). When one is in an awful marriage, you can be vulnerable to seeing only the good in someone who represents greener grass or what “could be.”
I’ve noticed that quite a few people commenting recently have dated someone for years, yet for various reasons (distance, children, etc), they didn’t actually live together. As I’ve said before, with a N, “familiarity breeds contempt.” They don’t DO the day-to-day routine as it interferes with their grandiose self image. They want their dessert without being bothered with the main course. AND they don’t do the dishes.
It’s interesting that you mention you outlasted her other suitors, as though this means you possibly meant more to her (just wondering if you’re hanging on to any of those thoughts)? But as you say, you had the resources and were generous with her, so she had it ALL and it still wasn’t enough. FYI: If you took me to France, I’d also drop you a lovely note. :) You survived a double hitter in the Cluster B Ballpark. YIKES! Take time to sort this out before embarking on any new relationship. So glad you found the answers and support you were looking for. There are so many people out there who are still in a fog, never having heard of these disorders. Always, Jan

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Source B - December 7, 2012

Mark — on your recommendation, reading ‘The Untethered Soul’. Oooh, this is the good stuff. I think I’ve been reaching toward it for the last couple of months, but from my deep introspections I think Singer has hit the nail on the head.

- accept
- let go
- move on (with a plan)

I feel 100% better. Much, much more energy now — and not that angsty/avoidancy/conquesty stuff.

Thank you so much for mentioning this book. You’ve changed a life today :)

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Mark - December 7, 2012

Booty call is the perfect description. Thanks Jan.

The Untethered Soul is a great companion and one that I read often before bedtime. My therapist was thrilled with his book and now recommends it to her other clients. I also suggest The Way of the Peaceful Warrior and his companion book Wisdom of The Peaceful Warrior. And sorry, one more. Comfortable With Uncertainty by Pema Chodron. Transformational book.

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Mark - December 7, 2012

So glad I changed a life. But it’s really you that made the change. Honor yourself for that.

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10. Tracy - December 6, 2012

To Source b & Mark- I think that the worst thing about any involvement with an N is that the entire “relationship” is a sham. All of your feelings & memories were built upon & wasted on a falsehood- the N. Everything you thought was true was untrue. Still, it’s hard to let go of it because you keep wanting to address it as a real relationship. It’s very difficult to admit that you were used, “tricked”, & discarded- so you look back to find something, anything, that will support your contention that you did have a relationship.

All that this does is let the N steal even more of your life. The only thing you can do (& the healthy thing) is to move on & don’t look back. There must be a firm, “no contact”, rule in place. Accept that no matter how real you thought it was, it was all an illusion from the start. You could not have changed anything because the disordered N was in control the entire time. Forgive yourselves & move on. Take care. :)

Tracy,
Thanks for your insight. And you are SO right. Ultimately, people are trying to analyze a relationship that didn’t really exist. Jan

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Source B - December 6, 2012

Thank you for your kind comments. Ahh… it’s been a hard road; really it has. But, in case anyone is interested, I can honestly say I’m closed on the ‘relationship’, if it was one.

Oddly, and unexpectedly, I discovered today that she’s now engaged to her next fellow — a chap much younger and prettier (and richer, if unemployed) than I am, and much younger and prettier and richer than she is. He also seems to be something of an idealist. She’ll have quite a few years out of milking him.

Robin, dude. When you happen upon this thread in a few years’ time, you’ll know who to get in touch with. (Also, I’m sorry about the ecofarm — the laws of thermodynamics are pretty fixed; you’ll not escape them, though you want to.)

This strikes a chord:

==quote==
Then she dropped the bomb: “This relationship is just not working for me.” I was devastated and asked her why. Her response: “I just shut down.”
==/unquote==

Yup. Word for word what my ex said to me. “I just shut down.” And I’ve no doubt that she did. I’m not sure whether she’s even dishonest in a ‘true’ sense, since she would be banging on about responsibility the next.

“I just shut down.” –> “Meh. You deal with it.”

Fine. Not, actually, a problem. I’ve dealt with it.

BUT … this might make people laugh a little. I did, eventually, get an apology from the narcissist. Yes! Actually, an apology.

“I’m sorry for getting frustrated.”

Which, in Narc-speak translates to:

“I’m sorry you’re so annoying.”

Sigh.

There’s nothing, nothing to be done with these people.

Robin. Dude.

Good luck. I hope I’m wrong. You guys got engaged on around 20 November 2012. On 26 November 2012, she was emailing me ‘checking in for no reason’. I told her no contact on 27 Nov.

Dude. Good luck.

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Mark - December 6, 2012

My X-N emailed me today about nothing very important. There’s been no contact (email/text) for 5 days and that seems to be about her limit. She did so just to keep the hooks in because she knows how I feel about her. That’s why my therapist along with Jan and everybody else employs the No Contact rule. This is hard for me because the “teenager” in me still wants the physical stuff but the man in me says no, stay away. Sadder but wiser indeed. I’ve cut off the supplies and I can feel her hunger. But the next guy (victim) is just around the corner because she is exceptionally beautiful and sexy and puts one helluva show. Little doubt that she will find new supply lines in the next guy. I just hope he can afford it. Or do I?

Mark,
Actually, you don’t. After we’re discarded we all hope the same will happen to whoever is next, if only because it will reassure us that a N can’t/won’t change. That there is no exception to the rule. This booty call is too expensive on your psyche and ultimately, it’s just to see if when she drops the bait, you’ll bite. Jan

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joe - July 16, 2013

My Ns dumping bomb was ” My walls are up and I want you to remove my number from your phone” WOW! that was July 17th 2012, she lives in Florida and I live in the mid west but we grew up 3 miles apart and had bumped into each other july 3rd 2008 when she was back to see her parents and did the sparks fly. The next 4 years were the same story everyone else has posted hot, cold anything is possible. nothing is possible, I miss you text will you move, and everytime I said yes then would come the silent treatment it drove me crazy until I found out what I was dealing with. Her daughter was so easy to love and my son is 3 years younger it was the family she always wanted…. sometimes. So in May she calls and tells me she sleeps better when we talk and if I move we will live happily ever after and how its magic when were together so I ask her if she really means it because if she doesn’t I have a great job opportunity and I need to know man did I screw up. She shows up at my door looking incredible in July short shorts tank top and her signature vanilla sent did I mention I think she”s somatic and 47. Tells me shes getting a new boob job the old ones are leaking, shes getting a new car dumps me and got engaged 6 months later like Paul Harvey I think we know the rest of the story. Did not know what hit me, but I do now. There”s so much more to it but we all get hurt by crazy when your looking for good in a bad person. I never contacted her again and July 19th will be a year NC still healing and wondering why I didn’t follow my gut instinct but it seems like it happens to all of us. Stay strong

Joe,
Sorry for not replying sooner, but I’m in the UK and just got back to my iPad after a 3-day sojourn in Edinburgh where I found myself discussing narcissism with two friends I’d met via the Internet! We’ve all moved on and found that we learned a lot about narcissists, but more importantly, we learned even more about ourselves. So, congrats on ONE year. Good for you! These people bring nothing but chaos into our life and then walk out the door without looking back. Each day you’ll get stronger. Jan

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Mark - July 17, 2013

Joe. It was not your fault. It never was because you acted out of love. Your gal is wounded and this happened during her childhood or early teens. This was a teaching mechanism for you. I have some suggestions. Find Brenda Brush, Hollywood FLA and have her read your chart. She is a real pro. This is not tabloid astrology. It’s the real deal. Second, buy these books. 1) The Unfoldment by Neil Kramer 2) The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer 3) The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists by Payson 4) Coming Apart by Kingma. You will find all of your answers within these books.

I dated a woman for 7 years. A gorgeous woman 20 years younger than me. I had the financial ability to fill her “supply lines” by buying her cars, the best jewelry and clothing, spectacular first class vacations, bought everything imaginable to make her life, and that of her teenage daughter, happy and comfortable. Though we did not live together, we lived very close to one another and she spent many weekends at my home and I spent many at her place. She wrote the most amazing letters, cards and created fabulous hand crafted books about our love and partnership. I knew this was the woman I was always looking for (I got divorced many years ago from a Borderline/N). Anyway, last year in April I proposed to her. Then in May we picked out a stunning engagement ring. In June we took our dream trip to Provence. In July she called me and asked if she could come over and chat. Ice ran through my veins. I knew something was wrong. She came over and told me that…”this relationship is just not working for me.” I was utterly shocked and devastated. I asked what happened? Her response……..”I just shut down.” This is classic N behavior. The notion that real long term intimacy was coming at her was the trigger that re-opened old wounds and pain from childhood. Kramer discusses this brilliantly in his book.

Jan, and others on this blog, helped me deal with the pain and hurt. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life. Jan told me that “she’s a pretty package wrapped around an empty box of a human being.” N’s do not really bond with people because they are indeed empty inside. They also are famous for empathetic failure. They have very low self-esteem as in “If he loves me, he must be a loser too.”

The relationship with a N goes like this. Step One: Idealization. Here they put on a good show and shower you with love and great sex and adoration. Step Two: Devaluation. They start devaluing you by blaming you for stuff, finding any fault they can conjure up, etc. Step Three: Discard. It’s over. I knew this woman for over 10 years. I was the 4th guy she threw to the curb. I ignored that as much as I ignored many other warning signs. My love was unconditional, hers was not. Indeed, she’s not really capable of true love or really feeling anything.

I thought I would never recover I was so hurt. It’s been a year and I am happy to report that I have more than recovered. I have taken back the keys to my life. I’m not even angry with her anymore. It was a lesson I needed to learn as I have made a habit of rescuing women. Being “discarded” by her was indeed a blessing.

You will be Ok. Go through the grief but don’t get stuck there. Make no contact with her whatsoever. She will attempt to reel you back in just to prove to herself that she can. Don’t let her take your power away from you. You will be better than OK.

I hope this helped. There are a lot of wounded people out there. Go find somebody that had happy childhood and fall in love all over again.

Mark

Mark,
Yes, I remember you. As I read your comment, I couldn’t help but wonder if she hung around because you did so much for her. She liked the things, but wasn’t interested in a real emotional connection?
I’m not one to recommend having your astrological chart read, but if the shoe fits… I can remember reading endlessly about clinical narcissism. At some point, all you need to know is the N is damaged beyond repair, and they didn’t really care about you, despite whatever they told you. They are emotionally unavailable to EVERYONE. There is no exception though many of us would like to think we ARE the exception. No contact is the way to go. It’s the old one day at a time routine, but it will take you to the other side of the abyss. Jan

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Mark - December 6, 2012

Jan. I cannot thank you enough for clearing out the fog and confusion. I am starting to feel liberated. With my form X wife, it was literally like living in tyranny. She was hard core Borderline/N/OCD. My first two kids suffered the consequences. I managed to get the next two kids away from her as soon as I could by sending them to boarding school and distant colleges. The younger two are high-functioning young adults. The two older ones who stayed closed to Mommy Dearest are human train wrecks. I am working hard to support them emotionally and there’s hope that they will get their lives on track someday. I’d also like to mention another book, “The People Of The Lie” by M. Scott Peck. While I do not accept his religious connections to evil, the first part of the book talks about Borderline/N behavior and it was a very powerful experience in helping me to see the truth. Thank you so much for what you do. And thanks to others for sharing their experiences which helps me to realize that I’m not crazy or guilty for what I had to do to survive.

Mark
I recently reread “The People of the Lie” and I, too, don’t agree with Peck’s religious association with evil, but it’s an interesting read.
“The Sociopath Next Door” is also a good read, if only to remind you that people walk amongst us who are not fully human – people who poison everything around them. Yes, you need to be there for all of your children. It’s like when you’re on a trip and the flight attendant tells you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. Ultimately, you have to be able to think clearly, so you’ll be able to help your children. Always, Jan

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Les - July 18, 2013

Hey Joe,
Read your post and Jan and Mark’s wise comments and really get what you are saying. I am one of Jan’s regular contributors here and the lady she met in Edinburgh!
What to say?I get completely how she treated you …the hot the cold,the lukewarm…it happened to me in the same way.
You’d say ‘Right lets move forward after statements of love and commitment(in my case he wanted to marry me, be engaged …)…then he’d go quiet and I now know he was shagging someone else.(add plus one or two to that) Somatic entirely. I was his main supply.
It’s been more than 16 months and I am fine now.

As someone said on the forum a few months ago ‘They are Puppies with Rabies’ Do not engage. No Contact is the key.

See them in your mind’s eye as leaky pitchers who cannot be filled. When you tell them you love them, as Mark said…they see you in a lesser way. They so not trust,rate want to be with those who love them?
Also and this image works for me so well..you are a ‘puppet’ on the stage of their making…they will play with you as and when you interest them but they are always, always looking for the new experience, new puppet to fill their stage?
They actually were looking over our shoulders as they told us they loved us?
Mark’s refs are good ones, I would add’Stalking the Soul’..great analysis of how we get taken in.
Also… here, on this blog(so you can access immediately) …on Jan’s posts’Close Encounter with a Narcissist PartThree’ there is a debate from April/May until September 2012 on this site….which I do believe will remove anyone from a Narc. I was privileged to participate in it. It also involves male perspective…

Wishing you perspective and happiness,
Light Shine,
Les

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11. Lynette d'Arty-Cross - December 6, 2012

Hi Source B,

Glad to hear that you’re on the mend. Your experience sounds so much like mine – especially your comment about how she didn’t want to eat with you; my N couldn’t deal with that either – but then again I shouldn’t be surprised by the similarities because they are all cut out of the same bolt of cloth. The fact that many of us have been conditioned not to stereotype and to keep an open mind can leave us vulnerable to those who recognize that and will take advantage of it. It’s unfortunately true that our experiences with the Cluster Bs leave us sadder but wiser.

“Checking in for no reason” sounds like she’s attempting to prove that you were at fault for the failure of your so-called relationship – on the other hand, maybe she’s not getting enough supply from her new guy.

I hear you about Robin. My ex-N is now involved with someone who thinks that he walks on water and that I treated him abominably. It’s like watching a car wreck and knowing that there’s nothing you can do about it. I wish him good luck, too.

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Source B - December 7, 2012

Hi Lynette

I probably shouldn’t be so judgmental as I’ve been above. Perhaps the new guy really is perfect for her — I know *I* wasn’t, and I can’t blame anyone else for my deficits (a pretty substantial list, I have to say!).

And, maybe she’s learned some stuff, herself. I certainly have. Perhaps she has, too.

The trouble is, if she *hasn’t* seriously addressed what’s going on with her, then heaven help the poor fellow the moment he starts stepping out of line. The moment that “shut down” thing happens, the dream/illusion cracks, and the abuse begins.

Best to look away from the car wrecks, I think. It would just be dwelling on something which is well out of our control … and I don’t like the kind of half-vindictive feeling I get as I speculate about what’s going to go wrong.

Trying, as they say, to get better. :)

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Lynette d'Arty-Cross - December 7, 2012

Perhaps you’re not so much judgmental as very “knowing” about what’s going to happen because narcissists don’t change their spots. We have to be realistic about our shortcomings but we also shouldn’t beat ourselves up – my sense is that you’re being rather hard on yourself. When the narcissist discards us, there’s always the danger that we (and even others) will blame ourselves (us) for not having seen them for what they are. Remember that the narcissist is very good at what she/he does, so it’s important to cut yourself some slack. It’s a lovely double whammy – we get our hearts broken and we also get to think about how we got taken and about how stupid we were.

One more book suggestion for the list above is Sandy Hotchkiss’s “Why Is It Always About You? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism.” An excellent read and also a good balance of the clinical and the approachable.

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12. Tracy - December 7, 2012

I’m leaving this reply to everyone who ran across these types. They have a nose for patsy’s. Someone kind, easy to divulge past life intricacies, people with no boundaries. Oh, we have boundaries towards others, but not so much with those who approach us.

Therapy, for an N/BPD target, would be to shore up personal boundaries & knowing when they’re being overstepped. N’s count on that particular manipulation.

For instance, saying “no”. and not feeling compelled to defend this decision? If you feel you must defend a position you feel strongly against, to someone not within your meaningful life, well, stop!

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13. lesley - December 7, 2012

Hi Mark/Source B and all,
I’ve been following this interesting discussion and wanted to add a comment or two.
Firstly,you will heal.
This is a mantra you may have to repeat ad nauseam for a time but eventually your sense of self preservation and inner esteem will return. I am around 10 months free of a 2 year intense relationship with a somatic Narcissist and am out of’the dark place’.Jan and my friends here have helped this journey.
Next you must not only shore up those physical boundaries in terms of No Contact but put some inviolable mental ones in place.
Your Cluster B/Narc/Borderline soul stealer didn’t actually exist in any tangible reality.
They turned themselves into what you wanted at the beginning of the relationship. They do this expertly,becoming your ideal man/woman for a time.It is their modus operandi.
This idealisation period is so powerful that you are compelled to return to it time and time again. You want to believe it and that it may be possible to return to this perfection.I read you describing those ‘beautiful women’ and their’ new men’ but this type of beauty is a shell and indeed simply a weapon in an arsenal which enables manipulation?
You were a prop in a dark mirrored drama,nothing more.
The Narc is always setting and resetting the stage..
I wanted to stress,and you may have already done so to read Jan’s three part series’Close Encounter with a Narcissist 1,2,3.This will give you insight into the verbal play,the ludic nature of the relationship and the stark abyss of a Narc at work..
Contained in the comments of ‘Close Encounter with a Narc part three’ is a discussion which I and several others participated in for several months during this Summer 2012 and which I believe was intrinsic to my recovery.If you find time please pop over and read.. The depth of insight and Jan’s wisdom are remarkable..
It is also crucial to allow oneself to grieve. To feel that hit to the solar plexus and the desperate sadness.No amount of playing back the relationship ultimately works. You have to understand what happened for sure,but do so for yourself….not the Narc.
Finally a book that I found liberating was’Stalking the Soul’ by Marie France Hirigoyen. Again, I got the link from this site.
Thoughts are with you,
Light Shine,
Les

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Mark - December 7, 2012

Thanks Les. I think I read the whole series but I will check to be sure. Thanks for the book recommendation.

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Source B - December 7, 2012

Thank you, Les.

The grieving was hard, but I think I’m at a point of acceptance now. The funniest part of it, looking back at myself, was when she would say or do something incredibly horrible and I’d think, “You said WHAAAAT?! or “You did WHAAAAT!?” … as if she had no conception at all that anyone else’s feelings or expectations were involved.

I said to friends (online — I didn’t dare speak to my parents or family about the experience of being with her) : “Look, it’s so weird. I love her. I keep revising my expectations of this relationship downwards. I’m *sure* this boundary will hold. I mean, what kind of person would behave with such utter unthought and non-consideration?”

“You did WHAAAT?!!”

Now. I’m not great with boundaries myself. That’s part of my own ongoing learning. But, dang. As soon as I thought X was okay, she’d barge right through it.

I’ve spoken to her former husband’s family. Many of the things that baffled me (and which I’d doubted my own mind on) were confirmed. This is the woman’s perpetual behaviour. Inability to compromise, inability to negotiate rationally … control freak, abusive, … sigh. Just nuts.

So, these days, it really does just come down to:

“She did WHAAAT?!?”

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14. Lynette d'Arty-Cross - December 7, 2012

Well said, Les!

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lesley - December 7, 2012

Cheers Lynette,
Just wanted to say that I checked your blog out a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed your writing. You said sg about the thinking processes of a Narcissist that stayed with me and afforded insight. It was along the lines of they
‘imagine we all think like them’
This gave me focus into the ‘win at all costs’,,verbal put down stance of my Narc. He was on red alert much of the time at actually’Being found out’ and viewed most of humanity with suspicion. His life was about accruing status and maintaining it. Your comments helped me reaffirm this to myself. Thanks and upwards and onwards.

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Lynette d'Arty-Cross - December 7, 2012

Thanks, Lesley, your comments are much appreciated. Did I somehow miss that you had been by?

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15. lesley - December 7, 2012

I read a few of your November articles Lynette,the one that resonated was’Peekaboo, I See Me’….spot on title!
I would have been beaming in from North Eastern Scotland for info if you have the clustermap thingy going on?

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16. Mark - December 18, 2012

Jan and others,

I am starting to climb out of the pit of sadness and shock. I am making progress but one thing that lingers is this……….what is that trigger moment? In my case, we had just picked out an engagement ring, took our dream trip to France, told each other we were best friends for life and that we would build a new home together……and then Bam! It was over. I’d kust like to know, if possible, what triggered her to discard me so abruptly. During the break-up conversation she mentioned Codependency and that I would just have to figure that out and find my own path. She also said, “I don’t want to sit here and attack you.” Clearly she was blaming me for screwing up the relationship. I get this part, this is text book N behavior……..but I am still puzzled by what triggered the event. In my case, i don’t think it was another guy because I spoke with her best friend and that friend told me that she’s never heard ner cry that much or be that upset!!

Will I ever know? Does it matter? Am I still holding the “rope”?

Mark

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Source B - December 22, 2012

“but I am still puzzled by what triggered the event.”

Things got too close for her; she became terrified of the prospect of normal intimacy.

They tend to work like this: they desperately hope that the whirlwind will get them over that intimacy hurdle. All the emotions, all the plans, all the future-thinking. They’re on board; you’re on board.

But when they actually have to face the fact of intimacy, they lose control and become panicked and unsoothable creatures. The ‘critical head’ comes out. They hunt for reasons *in you* for why *they* can’t unwind their tight selves. When they find some reason or other (and it could be big and real, or small and unreal), they use that to unlock the wave of contempt that they actually feel for themselves and, being in an unreflective and emotional state, they can’t restrain it.

Does that make sense?

You got too close. She had to push you away.

Now: this is the hard bit. You probably feel hurt and confused by all this. Inside you, there’s probably a pretty substantial corner of yourself that still wants to care for, love and cherish her. I’m sorry to say that you’re simply going to have to shut that down.

She cannot care for you in a realistic way. She never could.

You took the relationship as far as it could go. The trigger moment is something which happened *inside* the ecology of her mind, like an old shelf collapsing, or a crack appearing in a ceiling, a tree falling in a forest.

It’s not your fault. There’s an urge to find the cause, to make sense of it all … but it really is just that. It’s something that happened inside her, and she won’t be able to allow herself to know that. She’ll blame you, give you reasons, attack you — and, to be fair to her, it sounds like she’s avoiding doing that, which is as close to kindness as some people can come — but ultimately, that’s it.

It’s sad. But the important thing is that you get on with your own life. Be well, be happy.

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Mark - December 22, 2012

Thanks Jan & Layla……….your response, as always, helps me a lot, she has been reaching out to me and it’s now so easy to read between the lines and see the manipulation, albeit subtle, working away at me. I was just tested for Act Two but since i didn’t fall for the trap, she is clearly annoyed with me……..and that speaks volumes!

BTW, she used the Codependency angle as the reason for the break up, implying that I became too dependent on her which is of course, is exactly the opposite of what the real situation was. Frankly, her excuse is almost laughable if not completely absurd.

By sincerest thanks to all. I am now helping out another male friend who just got discarded. He’s in the early shock and fog stage but by sharing my experience with him, I know I can help him crawl out the pit of despair he finds himself in.

This site and the people who have been sharing their sad stories has been a blessing. Thank you again. I know now that the light at the end of the tunnel is not just another tunnel but real light.

Peace&Love,

Mark

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17. Layla - December 18, 2012

Hi Mark, sorry you have to go thru this at this time of year. My Narc discarded me abruptly at the end of Sept. after an 11 year long distance relationship. He is working on a house in CO and I had suggested he paint the bedroom before he move his furniture in. He said he liked the color of it. The next night he referred back to that conversation and told me he realized that we “had nothing in common” (after 11 years of visits and at least once daily conversations).

I learned later that he had started seeing someone out there several weeks earlier (trying out the new supply before discarding me).

I was distraught and then learned about Narcissism and Bam! the lightbulb went on. Honestly it made it easier to understand that I wasn’t dumped because of me but because of his disorder.

It doesn’t take much for them to decide that they are done from what I’ve read. It’s probably been on their mind for awhile.

I will wait for the experts to reply but just wanted to let you know you’re not alone. Hang in there.

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Mark - December 18, 2012

Thanks Layla. Everything helps me to better understand while “I twist in the wind.”

The discard was always just waiting to happen, so there ultimately wasn’t something you “did” to trigger it. Even if you got the N to tell you why, you couldn’t believe a thing she said because she’d put her own spin on it. I doubt she knows exactly why. This is just what they do – over and over again. It’s their nature. Always, Jan

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18. dana lynn - January 3, 2013

Hi
Its been 14 days of nc with my N Husband.When he came back on Christmas day and took our dog from the yard, I did call and text, no reply for a day, then a call, He said he was thinking of bringing her back>>>> He leaves a text or message everyday, but I know that responding will be playing the game… I want out, he almost destroyed my life, and the last 3 years were hell. He would say during the relationship, that he was sick< he knew!!! he also said that he could't feel my feelings he also admitted to being very manipulative. He was also a cheater.. big time…. I think its no fun for him now that were apart, I really think the cheating gave him a high…. After cheating he would give me money or bring me jewelry!!! He need a wife to cheat on. He is a very sick person. I could go on and on but I'm just drained with trying to understand who he really is… I don't really care anymore, Im so glad hes gone!!! I need to care about me and get me back..

Dana,
It’s not that important that you “understand who he really is.” You already know what he is – bad news – and all of the research, introspection in the world is not going to change that. Yes, focus on yourself. Don’t throw any more good (time) after bad. Jan

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Mark - January 3, 2013

The last sentence says it all. Dana needs to take care of Dana. Time for you to truly take back your power and authority. The more time you ponder the hurt and misery, the more energy you pass to him. Walk away from anything that does not serve you. I’ll suggest some books that will help. “Loving Yourself” by Kingma, “The Untethered Soul” by Singer and my latest fav The Unfoldment, Neil Kramer.

If I may, here are a few quotes from “The Unfoldment:”

“Many people instinctively burn their bridges when they first feel the sovereign power of their own authority”

“Change becomes an ally, not an opponent. It is no longer possible to get lost in the narrative when we ourselves take ownership of its creation.”

“Eventually, as the years go by, we awaken one portentous morning to realize that we’ve we’ve spent our whole lives living in someone else’s version of reality. This is called a mid-life crisis.”

Good luck on your journey Dana. You’re gonna be better than Ok.

Mark

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19. Tracy - January 3, 2013

Hi Mark- exactly.

There came a point, a time, when we allowed another to hijack our lives. The reality is: you are not a possession of your NPD- no matter what they think. Step away, kick them in the teeth, & no longer speak with them- in any way.

Important- as they will work to wear you down- old style.

Be smart. Cut it off. Re-claim your life. No excuses. The NPD does not “love you”– they wish to drain you as a vampire. Run.

Tracy,
So true on all counts. Jan

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20. Thomas - January 6, 2013

I love the refence to “Impression Management”: very early on it became clear that she felt very threatened when something I said, did or wore had the slightest chance of “embarassing” her in front of her friends or family. And she still wonders why I prefer NOT to join her when she goes to functions with her friends and family. Mistakes I made that somehow impacted her was normally interpreted as some nast plot on m part to make her miserable. After five years of marriage and two kids, we’re soon to be divorced. As our marriage “progressed” she felt less and less need to apologise for saying hurtful things to me (I must have “deserved it” or it was for my “own good to become the perfect person she wanted me to be”). Strange that she always measures me against her deceased father but she forgets that she’s not her mother (who is “too kind and let’s people take advantage of her”). Gauging from the controlling abusive behaviour during our marriage, I shudder to think what’s in store for me when we are divorced. To be fair though, she’s being very accommodating in what she wants out of the divorce – almost too good to be true – just hope the divorce happens so fast that she doesn’t realise what she could have gotten. Maybe there’s two reasons: 1. control is everything to the extent that she will sacrifice anything to get a person she cannot control out of her life; 2. she’s been so wrapped up in her OWN needs that she does not realise how much our joint estate is worth. I’m a person who tends to avoid conflict and this may have given her the impression that I’m easy to control. However, I do have my boundaries about being treated with dignity and respect and not being dictated to, and after five years of hoping the other person will mend their ways knowing how much they are hurting me I’ve grown very angry and tired of being so tolerant. Well, she doesn’t need to mend her ways if what she’s doing is for my own (i.e. HER OWN)good hey. My only question is: How does one best deal with a Narcissistic ex-wife when there are children involved?Sometimes, just to stop all contact with her I get this thought in my head that I must lose contact with my children as well. I’m ashamed to sa other times I get this thought in my head of her dying – so much for love hey. I guess the biggest damage these people do is steal the Love from one’s heart. I consider myself to be a mentally strong person but I must admit me being in the presence of a person who thinks they are the center of the universe really sucked the life-blood out of me. What surprises me is that she still has so many friends, including ex-boyfriends that still hang on: no guessing one of them will strike it lucky if the haven’t already gotten some side action. Her family is so tolerant of her aggressive controlling behaviour towards them, they seem to think it’s normal. I keep on trying to find some deep sinister reason she’s like this but I guess the answer is simple: she was raised as a spoilt brat who’s used to getting what she wants and who was never taught that her actions has consequences.

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Tracy - January 6, 2013

Hi Thomas,

“My only question is: How does one best deal with a Narcissistic ex-wife when there are children involved?”

You are in for a really rough time. In addition to the relationship with my ex-N, I also have an ex-husband. While he shares some traits of being disordered, he’s isn’t quite, yet the difficulties in dealing with him due to his extreme self-obsession have been nearly as exhausting. I mean, I continue to go to therapy from time to time just to deal with it. It isn’t so much him pulling my chain- as it is the things he does & says (constantly) which hurts the children or would place them in bad circumstances if I didn’t rise to object.

“Her family is so tolerant of her aggressive controlling behaviour towards them, they seem to think it’s normal.”

I call it, “perpetuating dysfunction”. It’s no consolation to me that even the kids (13 & 18) are aware of just how he (& his extended family) are. They are being forced into a “pretend everything is fine” mindset- which I equate to a mental torture (not to mention teaching them that you must allow someone you love to mistreat you & pretend it’s okay?)…All I can do, to not make things worse, is to say that behaviour is not right in my opinion, and it would be unacceptable to me from any partner I had. The last thing I want is for them to choose their mates based on this? Yikes.

Okay, back to you & the divorce. There is one thing you MUST do- & I mean this is an absolute when dealing with ALL N’s: gather evidence to support your case that cannot be disputed.

With my N, she was very intelligent & very much had set the stage to our friends & all who knew us that I was to blame for everything- ever. When I was forced to leave because she lashed out at my son when I was a way working (last straw), I made sure I had copies of letters, a dated daily journal I had kept as she became more unstable & aggressive/down-putting, I asked the kids to write out how they felt when she went off at them for no reason (again, when I was not home), I discussed the confrontations with my doctor & therapist, I also copied the rejection letters that she attempted to hide- where she was applying for credit cards with large limits behind my back. You must have evidence- and even a journal- with dates, details, what happened, what she said to denigrate or to control you- all laid out will help. Originally, I did this hoping to use them in couple’s counselling (to facilitate a truthful discussion) but later they were evidence given to prevent our deportation from our new country. If I had not had these things- we (kids & I) would not be where we are today.

Accept NOTHING unless it is written down & signed in the presence of YOUR lawyer. Do not take one word of verbal promise- not one. Once the divorce process begins, speak through your attorneys only. Get advice on the children, as far as how you can communicate about them. I would consider finding a therapist that works with kids & get them to at least one appointment to see how they’re coping. If you could- I would ask for sole custody- but that’s a big matter for you & your attorney to discuss. Sole custody simply means you’re not as beholden to every whim that crosses her mind down the road.

I wish you well. Hang in there & keep your kids best interests first.

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21. les - January 6, 2013

Hi Thomas,
Yes, I stand by the comments I made on this thread on ‘Impression Managers’. It’s the code they come to live by.
Your experience details clearly how you were sacrificed on the pyre of her need to maintain status…my advice is take each day at a time until you start to be transfused by your ‘own self’ again. It does feel like they have sucked your blood for a while?
Tracy’s comments seem incredibly sensible to me. I was only with my ex for two years(long enough)but I did witness his awful relationship with his kids and the chilling part he played in this.So start early and detail everything…you may need it in the years to come?
Your description of your wife’s friendships was interesting to me. Examine it closer? You may find there is some reciprocal Narcissism or ‘Status Bolstering’ going on in these relationships. I was with a Somatic Narcissist who jointly backed his friends infidelities…just as they covered for him.Although these friendships were long term they were superficial in the extreme.
My ex did not understand how I could want to be friends with others who could’Do nothing for me?’ I quote him directly.there.
One laugh I can give you. Regarding status…my ex an I were on holiday in a quiet town in Spain. Too quiet and low key for him… I had booked the hotel,charming and with great views. One morning he walked along to the most expensive hotel in the resort and began taking pictures of the frontage.I asked him what he was doing? He actually wanted me to sit on a bench at the front of this incredibly expensive hotel….Why?You’ve guessed it??
He was creating pics to show his friends.The hotel I had booked was deemed unsuitable!
You are incredibly lucky Thomas to be out of this. Consider that every day and after a dark time you will emerge stronger and wiser.
Light Shine,
Les

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22. Source B - July 30, 2013

Hello, all.

In perhaps just a few weeks’ time, I will be returning to my ex’s country to live for a little while in the house I bought there. I have followed a fair bit of the advice I have found here and elsewhere, and I have also been getting some counselling. The whole process has been deeply searching, and I have flipped and tossed my memories of the relationship (and my life!) this way and that in an effort to understand her, myself, and what might really have taken place.

WHO IS THE NARCISSIST?

I think the most important thing I have discovered on this journey is that my own narcissism runs very deep, and that it is often unhealthy. For my own peace of mind, I can tell myself that [X] was by far the greater power-hungry narcissist than I was in the relationship — but the more and more I look at things, the less certain I am that I come out of it ‘clean’. Worse than that, when I found the label of ‘narcissism’, I attached it to [X] and used it both as a prism through which to see and understand her AND as a powerful tool of judgment and blame.

Not nice to find that out, I can tell you.

PROJECTION

The problem was there came a point where I had to admit I was projecting my own weaknesses, failures and assuptions upon her. From my research, I found that my own understanding of relationships, needs and boundaries was, honestly, pretty useless. I thought I was ‘okay’. I really wasn’t. My empathy, conversation and listening skills were rudimentary, and I have a long way to go to develop those further. I’m also still bad at taking criticism that is not carefully and usefully phrased. Snap comments still wound me so sharply that it becomes very difficult to push forward and really get at what the other person is trying to say. I remember very often chosing my words with care when I spoke to her — but did I do it *all* the time? Did I notice, did I apologise freely and acknowledge [X]‘s feelings?

MY PART

I can’t honestly say that I did. Could I have done? I don’t know. I think I can say I mostly tried my best with what I knew. Should I have done? Yes. At 40+ years of age, I think it really was my responsibility to have learned rather more about human relationships than I had done to date. I’m sure that in the relationship with [X] I was hamfisted and clumsy, and also increasingly defensive.

ACCEPTING

But even if I could have done more, and should have — Would it have made a difference? I don’t know. I think, ultimately, not. I’m told it’s a mistake to think you can change how people behave, or to take responsibility for it. I also understand that if someone is explosive and forbidding by nature, the things they *actually* explode and forbid about don’t matter so much — the personality will out.

ANGER

Over the 15 months, I have beaten myself up badly with anxiety over not being who [X] wanted me to be. I have also beaten myself up over not being who I wanted me to be. I’ve watched the world through the eyes of a vengeful narcissist, spotting failure and cruelty everywhere, and in myself, too.

DEPTH

But, I have also learned more about listening to my own feelings. I have learned how to better rein in my anger, and how to cautiously and compassionately feel sadness and guilt for the losses and wounds I have both suffered and inflicted upon others. I have learned to tolerate more — not, as I had done previously, by swallowing pain — but by putting myself at a cooler (and yet, more compassionate) distance from things which would otherwise hurt.

GROWTH

I feel like a more complete person, now. I am less interested in trying to understand or attribute blame in the breakdown of the relationship with [X]. If I were faced with the same circumstances again, I would set boundaries and needs carefully, compassionately and explicitly, and be sure to leave a relationship more quickly (and more gracefully – without noise) if those boundaries were violated or those needs not met. Also, I’ll pay much more attention to a partner’s moral and spiritual awareness.

END POINTS TO NEW DAYS

A final point. For much of the last year, I have been angry to a greater or lesser extent. Sometimes it has been enough to keep me unpleasantly focused on myself, or on [X], for several hours. Sometimes, it has been little more than a background hum of irritation. The anger has been helpful, cleansing and energising in some ways; it has also been conflicting and trapping in others.

However: for me, the final part came last week during counselling when I truly let myself feel sad. Deeply, properly, honestly and truly sad about the loss of even that awful relationship, my weird relationship with my brother and family, my age and childlessness, opportunities missed and problems acquired … .

Anger has been useful in keeping me going, moving me on. The sadness has been vital in finally setting me free.

Much love to all. I hope some of this ramble makes sense out there.

Source B.

Source B,
Thanks so much for your “ramble” which is so eloquent and obviously from the heart. It’s good that you’ve had the time and help of a counsellor to reframe what happened and understand what role you played in what happened. That can be a bitter pill to swallow so I applaud you for “going there” and sharing what you learned. This can only help others, which I believe is the greatest gift we have to give.

Yes, the only person you can change is yourself/and how you respond to the other person’s actions. It seems, and I could be wrong, that you’re saying that although you wanted to view X as the one with The Problem, you’ve been able to see Y (can’t resist that, sorry) you had some responsibility as well and personal growth to do. To quote Maya Angelou, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

Anger is a natural step to moving forward,as long as it slowly morphs into understanding and ultimately forgiveness. Some people seem to wallow in this stage and become mired in quicksand which keeps them from getting on with their life. At 40 something, 50 something….you can keep going…we all have regrets about who/what we should have/could have been or done. But what you have to work with is today and a newfound understanding of yourself. Go for it!
Always, Jan

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Source B - July 30, 2013

Thank you, Jan, for your thoughts. Thank you especially for setting up this blog.

It became very difficult to see anything straight in the (many) aftermaths of my relationship with [X]. I loved her so very much, and having that love promised but not returned … ach. It upended so many of my worldviews that I had to find a new place to stand.

So. Here I stand: wherever I’m breathing — and even if I’m lying down.

It’s better, here. Thank you for providing a place for all these stories and outrages to be collected.

Thanks for watching.

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Source B - December 10, 2013

Hello, all. This is a small update on what I hope will be the end of the end of the ‘getting over it’ process. I have largely exhausted myself with research, counselling and experiences over the last two years, and I think I might have come to the Final Final Place on this part of my journey: the Holy Temple of Meh.

I’ve been back in my ex’s homeland/my half-adopted country for three months, now. Crossing over the threshold of the little tumbledown house we bought together (and I ended up with) was a refreshingly sad experience. I recognised the loss, had a little manly cry, and then set to work fixing up the house’s foundations.

The days rolled on. Some days I wrote effectively, some days I distracted myself. Sometimes there were good runs, where the naggings of my mind were banished, sometimes there were weeks where I became susceptible and, honestly, depressed. All things pass.

Over the period of time in which the house had been vacant, I had relied on my ex’s mother to arrange for the place to be winterised and for the grass to be cut etc. I wouldn’t say we were close in any way, but there seemed to be a kind of mature sensibleness in how things were being run. I was grateful for that.

I made acquaintance with a couple of people I knew from my time with the ex, and I was genuinely moved by the hospitality and kindness offered. “You seem like a completely different person now,” they said, and I think largely they are right. The ex isn’t very much in my mind at all: I have more than enough other problems to contend with. I reciprocate with gifts and helping out (a little; no boasting) with spots of charity work. I met my neighbours properly: fantastic old guys with stories, leather skin and muscles that put even my long-ago teenage self to shame.

I have discovered that I love finding out people’s contexts more and more. Every day is different to every person on Earth, and all sorts of wonderful (and terrible) things happen every minute, each in their unique way. Turning my attention outward has been profoundly settling. I feel rebuilt (rather, rebuilding) following the horrible intensity of inner focus that comes after a narcissistic encounter.

I have had relapses. When I bumped into my ex, we had a civil chat. I was disturbed for a few days after, wondering what was true and what was false. She *had* been obsessed with fitness and her body image. Now, she has let all that fall from her priorities. Well, she seemed happy and relaxed (she has married her new fellow) and that was nice to see.

I had another relapse a couple of days ago when I was delivering some mail which had come for the ex to her mom’s. As it happened, the ex’s new husband opened the door. It’s very difficult to describe him, because any phrasing seems so extreme as to be unbelievable, but he is, hands down, the creepiest person one could ever imagine meeting. Defensive and closed off to an extreme degree, shallow affect, charmless — either a complete narcissist himself or, more worrying, an unexploded psychopath. He is a psychologist, a pagan High Priest, a White Vampyre(?), has various magic powers, is an unpublished novelist, and claims to be building an ecovillage where, in short, everyone will work for and agree with him. He has the land, it is said, but really this land is his family’s and out of the tens of acres, only about 1/8 of an acre has been cleared so far. At this rate the community will be ready to take occupancy in about 2180 A.D. He is also a computer programmer whose weblinks go to dead pages. All of that is pretty bad, but it truly pales next to the indescribable feeling that one needs a solid hot shower and a soapy scouring pad after having encountered him. Our meeting lasted perhaps 30 seconds.

I pondered over this for the last couple of days, and had dinner with some friends. They know more of him: the restraining orders, the know-it-all-ness, the disgraced clergy family background (the man’s father did not know until the wedding was set that his son was a pagan). And they know more of my ex: the depth of her untruths, the fascination with image management, the ‘information control’. At the end of that conversation I realised that I had truly never ever met the woman. They also know my ex’s mother much better, and were surprised to find that she had more or less befriended me — because the mom, they said, is currently involved in spreading malicious gossip about me through the village. Shrug. The apple falleth not far from the tree, and believe me when I say there are a dozen further unbelievable tales of affairs, strip clubs, leather wallpaper … .

And the good news is that I really don’t mind. I’m … over it. It’s all so bizarre that the greatest danger is continuing to look on, fascinated by what extraordinary insanity these absurd people will come up with next. Without wishing to go the whole ‘dismiss and discard’, I can absolutely say that these last two years of madness have set me surprisingly straight.

I kneel in gratitude at the Temple of Meh.

I can no longer even attempt to give a damn about these guys. Join me as soon as you can. There’s a frightful good cheer, over here.

Source B,
I’m so glad to hear back from you! I do believe that fixing the house’s foundation is a metaphor for your putting your own life in order. It’s so true that when we look back, we realize we never actually knew the person who so upended our life. It sounds like she’s met a real keeper who’s downright grandiose! Cue scary music. Isn’t it amazing how moving your thoughts outside of yourself helps reset your internal compass? I wish you only the best. Life is always a work in progress. Always, Jan

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Mark - December 10, 2013

Source B. You are going to be better than OK. I’ve been there too after 7+ years and all kinds of promises and commitments that they are not able to keep. Just yesterday she wrote to me and said……”Thank you for being who you were in my life. There is a lot more to say on this, and I hope to do so in person sometime in the coming year. … and I know I have expressed similar sentiments in the past… But I want you to know that knowing you and being loved by you impacted me deeply and permanently. Thank you for the gift of your presence in my life.”

Now this sounds so sweet and forgiving but it’s just more N theatre. “Sometime in the next year?” This is hard core manipulation. Who says things like this? Keeping her hooks in me, trying to draw me back in………sometime within the coming year? Through these blogs, I have learned to run the other way. I’m sure Jan would agree. It’s in their DNA, they cannot be cured. Read Singer’s The Untethered Soul, Kramer’s The Unfoldment and Stalking the Soul. If you want to go really deep read M. Pecks, The People of the Lie.

Source B. Good luck. Learn to love yourself and all of the goodness you are. Read Mastin’s daily blog too. Great stuff. Hang in there, This was a teaching mechanism for you. Learn from it and move on. It’s hard to accept but you are better for it. Indeed it was a blessing.

Mark

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Tracy - July 31, 2013

Does any of that make sense? Absolutely. Especially this part:

“If I were faced with the same circumstances again, I would set boundaries and needs carefully, compassionately and explicitly, and be sure to leave a relationship more quickly (and more gracefully – without noise) if those boundaries were violated or those needs not met.”

Not having healthy boundaries pretty much assures a person of being abused by those who have no qualms about stepping all over you & yours. I think what would be helpful is for anyone currently experiencing a toxic relationship to ask their therapist specifically about how they can bolster their boundaries. They may need to give up some of their codependency to do it, but it’s doable.

Good luck Source B- I hope things continue to clear for you.

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23. Shannon - August 20, 2013

One day a woman found a rattle snake frozen in the snow, she took the snake home and nursed it back to health. While holding the snake suddenly it bit her! “Why did you bite me after all I’ve done for you?” She asked. The snake replied ” bitch, I’m a rattle snake must what did you expect?”
That gave me great clarity after the 2nd time my N discarded me.

Shannon,
Price of clarity…priceless. As brutal as the reality is, you see them for who they truly are. Jan

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24. Carmen - November 16, 2013

Mine knew what he was doing. We were married for 25 difficult years. I critisized him for kicking someone, who was down, in the head and the discard began. He misbehaved for another 2 years, with me as target: silent treatment, bullying, threats, scaring me with dangerous driving, physical withdrawal, and so on, before I kicked him out. He asked me: did I scare you, did I insult you? When I said yes, he just laughed. And to top it off he told me that he thought very highly of me and even more so now for kicking him out.
I was bullied out of my marriage intentionally. Glad now. Love the peace and quiet.

Carmen,
Yes, they enjoy seeing just how far they can push you and how much abuse you’ll take. Oh the irony of thinking more highly of you because you kicked him out. You can’t be in a “partnership” with a bully, so my hat is off to you for seeking higher ground. Jan

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25. Tracy - December 10, 2013

@SourceB:

“It’s all so bizarre that the greatest danger is continuing to look on, fascinated by what extraordinary insanity these absurd people will come up with next.”

Bingo! And the key word IS fascinating- because they truly are SO odd & weird that you stare, open-mouthed! Bravo, that you’re finally past it & moving on to a real life.

RE: the ex’s-mother- end that completely. It may not stop her vitriol-spreading about you, but at least the line is severed & she has no actual contact to speak of.

Take care & good luck. Hope your holidays are peaceful. :)

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26. Source B - December 11, 2013

@Jan, Tracy, Mark — thank you all. The advice to stay away from the mom is extremely good, and I’m following it. I’d always been a little concerned that having her in my life technically violates NC with the ex — but at the same time, she has certainly been pretty kind to me. Or so it seems. Or maybe not. Or, or ….

Meh.

@Mark — Wow. That letter is staggering. I hope you’re not replying!

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Mark - December 11, 2013

Actually I did but with eyes WIDE OPEN! It’s fun to play a N when you understand the game. It’s good sport!

Mark,
I did that several times and at the time, it felt good to give someone a taste of their own medicine. But later I saw that I’d stooped to playing the N’s game. Jan

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Source B - December 11, 2013

I’ve not found that, I must say. It’s tempting to get one over on someone who has hurt you, sure–but since Ns approach games without reciprocity, all I can see is this:-

ME: Aha! I won!
N: You don’t understand. My ability to draw you into play IS my victory.
ME: (helpless gloom, time wasted)

Hence the guidance: NC, get on with life. At least, that’s my understanding, damnable as it might be.

Of course, you had seven years with her. I only had to stand maybe five, six months. Your position is different.

Source B,
I can think of several instances where I delighted in giving the N a dose of his own medicine. But my continuing to try to “mess” with his mind only kept me in this ridiculous no-win game. It’s when you walk away that you win. Living well IS the best revenge. Jan

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Mark - December 11, 2013

I can’t take issue with your point of view. Because, quite honestly, the No Contact rule is the most intelligent approach. I can’t deny that. Putting any energy into her/it is a waste of good energy. But the intention of my comment was to communicate that I am now fully recovered and free and that I now possess the courage to play her game if I so chose. As one of my therapists said to me…….”What do you need to forgive in yourself? And what do you need to forgive in her?” I thought this was the ultimate in good advice. It is, if you will, the Mandela approach……….when you can reach forgiveness then you really have arrived. All the bad energy and sourness of the experience gets released. And I am happy to report that I made it across the goal line. And after 7+ years, a downpayment on our dream house, a stunning engagement ring, a pre-honeymoon honeymoon………..there was lot of releasing to do. I now see it as a blessing. As Kramer says, “Change is an ally not opponent when we take charge of the narrative.” And that’s exactly what I have done. So my best wishes to you Source B. I’ve enjoyed the exchange and I’m happy to keep it going.

Hi,
I hadn’t read this comment when I replied to your previous one. Congratulations on crossing the goal line. It’s a chunk of your life you can’t get back, but ultimately you can learn from it and I agree that you’re therapist’s advice was excellent. It’s not always about THEM. A lot of times it is also about US. I’m hoping you’re quoting Kramer from Seinfeld? LOL Jan

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27. Source B - December 15, 2013

Hi Mark,

I think I hear you. Please do be cautious, though. Are you looking to forgive her, or for her to know and accept and be humbled by the deep and broad power of your forgiveness?

One of those you can do from your armchair, right now. The other is a loaded gun against your own forehead, with her finger on the trigger.

Pfft. What am I saying? It’s not like I wouldn’t do the same thing!

I’ve often wondered if I could use my deepened spiritual awareness to help her become more herself, more empowered, more open and compassionate. As a friend, like.

Well, ain’t those thinkings just so very very BIG o’me?

The fact is that she has exactly what she wants. Her husband is a distant narcissist/Asperger’s* fellow so terrified of abandonment by women that he declared himself the head of his own religion**. Her teaching job lets her exercise authority over little people who will task her skills but not require her to challenge herself***. After that, a high calorie intake and daytime TV (TiVo’d for the evening) blanks out most of the pain–except that she is becoming less and less like the starved, script-written goddesses we have presented on that noxious medium. I hate the thought of her being unhappy, but if this is the shape of her desire, it’s not my right or place to dispute it. It’s not like I know much better myself.

She don’t need the likes o’ me. My big ol’ forgivins, even if delivered, would mean nothing to her because her own life rolls on. (As, with my permission, does mine.)

She’s driven by her needs, and they take her in a direction away from me. I’m driven by mine, too–and in a way, the incompatibility is a beautiful thing. We do have common interests which could theoretically sustain a friendship****. I’m not closed to that, necessarily [update while writing: oh yes I bloody am!], but it’s fiendishly hard to see what kind of truthful shape such a friendship could manage. As far as I can guess, it would be either deathly anodyne or a kind of passive-aggressive hellpit where nobody thrives.

I guess what I’m saying, ultimately, is that if the goal is authenticity, it could be very dangerous to open the door to the games of a truly unauthentic narcissist. Much of what we learn on our journey (standards of behaviour, boundaries, openness, courage, levels of acceptance) can give us great strength and freedom, but they’re backwards-tools, too: standards can be applied too rigidly, boundaries can crush, acceptance can be snatched away. The danger is not in having the tools. The danger is again letting the mischievous narcissist inside who will, almost automatically, allow them to be turned back upon us.

They can’t help it. They can’t help themselves. They *must* control mammy or pappa, projected here, there, or wherever. If they weren’t such horrible and self-satisfied jerks, it would be perfectly acceptable to feel sorry for them.

Contrariwise, freedom frees.

Breathe deep and take care of you,

Source B
_______________________________

* Jan – I’ve got a theory that unguided childhood Asperger’s can result in extraordinary narcissism in adulthood. Any thoughts?
_______________________________

** “A leader without followers is just a guy taking a walk.”
_______________________________

*** Jan, as a teacher, this might tickle or horrify you. When we were in the apparently-getting-to-know each other stage, she said this:

“The great thing about being is a teacher is you can tell the kids what they like, and they’ll believe you.”

It was my first red flag, and I almost didn’t brush it aside. “This person seems to put more value on performance than truth,” I thought … but then I guess my loins took over my brainstem and I heard myself think, “Oh, come along, Source B! She must be joking.”

She wasn’t joking.
_______________________________

**** Oh. I’m forgetting something which makes friendship impossible. Silly of me.

I had a severe cough in January 2011, and I was so unwell I could barely think about travelling out to see my then girlfriend-perhaps-fiancee. But, “we were losing momentum” (we’d just bought a house a week before??), and I booked my ticket out. On the day of my flight, early February, I had an x-ray scheduled in the UK. I had the x-ray (dragging my luggage behind me) and once I’d arrived over here, I had to wait two weeks for the results. As a smoker, chest x-rays are scary business for obvious reasons. There are a LOT of horrible things which can be suddenly discovered. They put a mortal fear in you which is hard to describe, even if you do keep it (for reasons of shame or terror) much to yourself.

Anyway: the results came back clear. When I told her that it was good news and that I didn’t have cancer, she stood up and sneered:

“You didn’t think you had cancer anyway.”

Then she walked out of the room as if I had annoyed her.

I remember sitting in my front room, alone, looking out over the snowy ground, thinking that was an odd and cold response to someone saying they didn’t have an illness, especially a serious one. And that she couldn’t have known what I had been thinking and fearing, since I had been, in fact, thinking and fearing it, though I hadn’t made a fuss. I couldn’t figure out why she was so angry that I was okay, and that I wasn’t going to immanently die.

I tried to think of any situation in which the roles could be reversed (“You didn’t think you had breast cancer/ovarian cancer/pancreatic cancer/MS/HIV … anyway.”) and for the life of me, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t think of any circumstance where I wouldn’t say to someone, even a stranger in a hospital lift, “That’s great news–it must be such a relief for you and your family!”

Even now, I’ve barely any insight into her behaviour.

The world isn’t black and white, except for the thoughts and behaviours of the people who think in black and white actually ARE black and white. For her, it was more important to get a made-up attack in, rather than to be happy that someone–anyone–isn’t going to die horribly and soon. WTF?

Still–water under the bridge. What a crock. Pardon me, please, for thinking out loud. It’s just that I forget too easily what a weirdo that woman is.

Yeuch!

But to heck with this. I’ve got a book to write. Take care, all! x

Source B,
I personally don’t think that narcissists are ever “humbled” by anything. Envious, yes. Embarrassed, yes. Shamed, yes. But not humbled. So any effort to extend an olive branch and to just be “friends” is ultimately inauthentic. Don’t we all want to get a closer look into the abyss from time to time? If only to see that it’s a bottomless pit. Believe me, I also had thoughts along those lines.
Moving right along to Asperger’s…I’ve had numerous students with this disorder. They are socially awkward and unaware how what they say/don’t say offends others. I can see how this could be construed as narcissistic, but Aspies are not duplicitous or mean spirited – just oblivious. I enjoy watching “The Bridge” for its portrayal of a woman with Asperger’s. A friend said, “I just can’t get into that show because that lead character is so unlikable!” At one time thought that “Joe” possibly had Asperger’s, but then I remembered how mean he could be. So, that thought lasted all of 20 minutes as I relieved all of the purposely cruel things he said.

Somewhere there was a list of professions that are well suited for narcissists. Politics, clergy and teaching all came up, as you have a position of authority over others. As a teacher, I can say her remark is creepy, but nor surprising. I’ve often told people that if you want to know what it feels like to be a rock star, teach 3rd grade. There is an unequal power balance, so it’s a perfect perch for someone who seeks adoration with no strings attached.

As for her comment after you got the “all clear” from the hospital. The first year I had this blog, I met a woman (she’s still on my blogroll) who had a similar experience. Only, she’d just learned she had breast cancer. Here’s a portion of her comment.

Unfortunately for me, I was married to one for 24 years. I didn’t figure out that it was HIM and not ME until after the divorce.
I want to share with you a classic NPD utterance. I had just found out I had cancer. We were sitting in the car, still at the Dr.’s office. He turned to me and instead of comfort (which I never got, go figure) he said, with ‘tone’…. “Now don’t go blabbing this to everyone you know, like you always do, Ginger.”
Confused, thinking he was ashamed of me, I asked why.
“Because, GINGER!” he said, rolling eyes and sighing as if should be OBVIOUS, even to an idiot like me. “I want to get some life insurance on you, and if you go running off at the mouth about having cancer, I won’t be able to.”
I think that was the moment when I knew I had to divorce him.

So consider the alternative. If you’d had Stage 4 lung cancer, she most likely would have looked at you and said nothing. Ns hate it when people need something. Meh.
Thanks you for your always articulate and insightful commentary.:) Always, Jan

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Tracy - December 16, 2013

@SourceB,

To her, declaring that you were clear following the X-Ray = “I’d hope/like you to be happy for me”…in other words, you were asking for something & NPD’s don’t like to give. They also don’t want you “needy”, which is how they would view your statement of relief. Same reason- they do not give.

Lastly, and as an afterthought, had you been ill it would have stolen her limelight away…which always makes them cranky- lol. So very glad you’re away from that misery now.

They are completely inhuman.

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Source B - December 18, 2013

Apologies, Tracy. I ought to have replied earlier. I think you’re right, and I think there was something profoundly not ‘giving’ in the relationship.

I hope you’re well and happy over there!

Best wishes

Source B

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Source B - December 16, 2013

Blimey, Jan. Jaw-dropping.

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28. Mark - December 15, 2013

Source B. Thanks for your comments. Sage advice. The cancer story is textbook empathetic failure. Something I witnessed and of course ignored repeatedly. As Jan told me, “She’s a pretty package wrapped around an empty box of human being.” Good news for me is that I finally sold the engagement ring after a year and half. Better news that she never got her hooks on the ring in the first place……..unlike the 4 poor chaps that preceded me. And yes she wants to be friends but I see the danger in that clearly. Frankly, I now believe she had found my replacement before she dropped the bomb. Also textbook behavior. Recently a medium told me that she could no longer withstand being in my energy as it forced her to face herself. Bye Now!!

I recently met a truly accomplished woman who works very hard after being dumped by her N husband. She didn’t take a dime from him. She wanted to rebuild her life under her own power and did she ever do that! Unlike my X who was brimming with magical thinking about being a screenwriter and making millions. After 7 years I still never saw one word written for that “famous” screen play. Now she rides on the coat tails of her very successful teenage daughter. They are such weirdos!

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29. Brenda - March 24, 2014

I have been married for 26 years and have just had my eyes opened to the answer to my questions for the whole 26 years of pain. Why, why, why. I had left so many times and always ended back in the same tragedy. I feel like I have wasted my whole life. I have always wanted to believe that things happen for a reason, just don’t know anymore.

Brenda,
If it’s any comfort, there are those who NEVER figure out who/what they are living with. CZ at The Narcissistic Continuum (on my blogroll) was married to a N for quite a few years, so I’d suggest visiting her site as she also manages a forum.
I think people like to say all things happen for a reason to make ourselves feel better – but, when someone’s baby dies, so does THAT reasoning. More often than not, it’s in hindsight that we can look back to see what we learned about ourselves. Armed with that information, we can move forward in life. Your eyes have been opened and your vision is 20/20. After so many years, there’s no rush – but you now know how the story will end if you stay. Always, Jan

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Mark - March 24, 2014

I lived the same story but got out when I felt my body and soul was at risk. It was a teaching mechanism for you, albeit very painful.

From Mastin’s blog The Daily Love:

“Each person in your life is sent there for your benefit and to teach you a lesson. The lesson could be how to trust yourself. The lesson could be that you are loved. The lesson could be to heal a wound from your past, or perhaps, the lesson could be forgiveness.”

Now you can grieve but don’t get lost in grieving. Get lost in growing and honoring yourself. You have your whole life in front of you. You will be better than OK.

Mark

Thanks Mark. Very well put. Jan

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