Thursday, February 01, 2007

Winning the Game

Going back to Wonders Never Cease...

One thing I know for sure: If you need a narcissist, or if they can even just delude themselves into thinking you need them for anything, you aren't going to win.

I think this mainly applies to a primary source of narcissistic supply in the narcissist's life. That would be someone close to him or her, someone the narcissist regularly gets a step up on.

If they think they can deny you anything you want, look out. They will play Keep Away.

If they do anything for you, look out: they will make you pay by making you feel like two cents waiting for change. As though some negligible thing they do to accommodate you were a big deal. That's because in their Magical Thinking Machine it is a big deal for God Almighty to interrupt the management of the universe for the sake of accommodating the insignificant needs of a bug like you.

They will act as though it is really putting them out. This is a hard one. For, if God Almighty is so mighty, it should be easy for her to move heaven and earth for you. Therefore, why all the whining and catastrophizing?

So, to understand a narcissist, don't think rationally like that. Think backwards instead. If you think backwards, like a narcissist does, you see it quite the other way around. It seems that a bug like you is expecting way too much to ask anything - ANYTHING, however small - of God Almighty!

To "pretend" that, she must ACT like it's terrible that you ask this of her. It's her way of letting you know that you are crud (= she is God Almighty by comparisson), so that you deserve nothing from her.

As though you are the one with the "problems," narcissists will trump up some ridiculous little thing (like not getting to feed Kitty at precisely 6 PM) that accommodating you interferes with as though it had earth-shaking ramifications in their life

Remember, you are dealing with a three-year-old in an adult's body, and this is how a three-year-old thinks. Their every mere whim, their every mere breath of a desire, is of cosmic importance to a three-year-old, right? Much more imporant than even a matter of life or death concerning a mere bug like you.

And, at the last moment - count on it - they will throw a temper tantrum on schedule as the pretext to change their mind and refuse to keep their promise to do this for you. That's how they stick it to you to feel grand about themselves.

So, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER need a narcissist for anything. Did I mention to NEVER, NEVER, NEVER need a narcissist for anything?

But that isn't enough. For, narcissists delude themselves into thinking that you need them even when you don't.

This doesn't mean that you can never get them to do what they should, but it does make it hard sometimes and it does require some thought on how to go about it.

First, let them know you have other ways of getting it done and that you want them to do this thing just because it's easier. Message: if they don't come through, it's no big deal.

Next, when they don't come through, act like you don't notice or care. Never, never, never ask them where they are or when they plan on getting the job done, or whatever. They are sitting there waiting for you to do that. Don't do it. At the 11th hour, they will come through.

You see, narcissists pay attention for different reasons than normal people do. We pay attention to others (and their needs) as their due. When a narcissist pays attention, he or she is just BUYING something.

And narcissists are always out to get the most bang for their buck.

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At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've described my mother perfectly. There are days I'm amazed that my siblings and I made it to adulthood.

Maybe this combination of over-inflated self-importance, lack of empathy, and desperate need for attention is what leads some N mothers to Munchausen-by-proxy.

(My mother didn't aspire to (many) near-death experiences for her kids: she pretty much stayed with hypocrondia-by-proxy--if there is such a thing.)

I waver between thinking she has a mental disease--not something which wholly excuses her, since she has some control, but may be a mitigating factor--and thinking she's just a dishonorable, cowardly, pretentious brat. I'm leaning heavily towards the latter these days.

I enjoy your site and blog. Graylor

At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My N came to me "wanting to do better" in our relationship. My adrenaline was flowing through my body like you wouldn't believe. fight or flight 101! Weirdest conversation I can't even recall to tell it. I am sure after the initial weird wears off it will play back in my mind in bits and pieces. Point/ counterpoint the whole way. I am sure I fed him supply and will groan when I identify my blunders, but if not for resources like this site I am sure I would have made way more mistakes. I did however use diversion when I deflected attention off our marriage only to our parenting of our daughter. I will let you know what I learn.Gees this stuff gets weird! jt

At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One weird thing I remember is he said I hated him and I thought he was an idiot. I calmly challenged that he was claiming to know what was in my head which was something he could not do. A long time ago I said those things on two different occassions. I pointed out that was a long tome ago. I got out of it. But it lingers that of all the words spoken in all the years, those were the only ones that got through his fog. Hmmm. jt

At 7:01 PM, Anonymous GH said...

How eerie JT! I could have written a word for word identical post myself not long ago. Well, repeaatedly, on many occassions, not so long ago and probably in the near future too... He goes through this cycle. Out and out abuse, slithers away when I refuse to engage (oh does that take practice!!), then crawls back asking for a "truce" which never takes longer than 3 minutes to evolve into a competition to prove that all the hostility (and of course his behavior) is my fault. (He actually accused the marriage counselor of being incompetent for suggesting he was the root of the problem.)

Don't beat yourself up for your "blunders" -- being able to interact safely with a narcissist is a challlenge, to say the least, and you learn a little more with every interaction. That you have the courage -- and apparent strength -- to face that challenge is inspiring.

I just stated a book by Patricia Evans called __The Verbally Abusive Relationship__. Spot on! She talks about the abuser's focus on competition and tendency to turn "friendly" only when he wants something.

At 1:24 AM, Anonymous Solaris said...

I still wonder sometimes how I can do this right - you know keep them from trampling on my boundaries. I just don't know what to do sometimes and then I turn the anger inwards and get depressed 'cause I know they'll never change. I guess I should just know who and what I am, 'cause I know that they can accuse me of anything at all.

If you really want to keep your sanity just go NC - No Contact with the Ns in your life!!

At 12:28 PM, Anonymous gh said...

Solaris -- Alas, NC is not always an option, as when you are co-parenting children with an N. It would be nice to think you could just sever contact, but since N-abuse is usually behind closed doors, any attempt to do that makes you look like you're the bad parent trying to alienate the kids from the N. It'll backfire. You're stuck instead trying to find ways to manage the N so as to minimize the damage resulting from the necessary contact.

At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You've had some good blogs lately but for some reason, I couldn't comment.:0/ I'll probably hit a few point in all of them in this comment.

First, I think I won a couple of rounds with my sister and was able to establish some pretty definite boundaries where none has existed for all of our lives. I was able to get her to stop preaching to me and I used a direct quote from you. I told her that she uses scripture to set herself up as judge over me, while holding out the carrot of her approval and hitting me with the stick of her disapproval. She was speechless. I was also able to stop her mouth in the practice of her telling me what is in my own head and why I do what I do by switching it on her. I used her recent actions to paint my own picture of her intentions. She also was speechless and though it may not seem like a lot, that is as close to an apology or admission of wrong doing on her part that I've every experienced and I managed to extricate myself from the situation without taking the blame in order to make peace as has been my role in the family all of my life. Your posts, Kathy and the comments here really helped me stand my ground and you just don't know how good it feels to have succeeded in not only not being stepped on but also in standing tall, sure of my self, and my view of reality and the rightness of my actions proven.

I also wanted to comment upon the use of positive reinforcement with my son, and yes, we do try to look for those things that he does that are truly thoughtful toward others and praise him for doing them. We are also mindful to remind him of how he ought to treat others because he is so prone to overinvolvement in himself, that he honestly doesn't see the needs of others the way the rest of us do and take for granted. We also let him know when what he does is obnoxious and has crossed the line. We strive to do all of this within the context of "We love you just because you are in the world. You can't lose our love or earn it or gain it through manipulation." True love is self-existent and that is the love of a parent. In other words, we love you when you are a jerk but we enjoy being around you when you treat us in a loving way. My husband and I, my oldest son, and my youngest son's wife have formed a wall of love around him and when he screws up, we don't hide it, we all confront it together. We strive to hold him accountable in love.

I think it is too late for the older members of my family who are of this bent. Especially, my dad. They've been at it so long that they are immersed in their make-believe world and I don't think they really care for true love. They are addicted to admiration. My sister is at the peak of that venture in her life and my dad is past the zenith and now eating the consequences of the love of admiration being nothing but a momentary flash in the pan as he has no substantive love in his life. There are those of us who out of duty continue to see that he has what he needs but sadly, I think he has killed the love that any of us had for him. I as a child am not able to give him the same kind of love that I can give my son. A child's love for a parent is established in trust and I have no trust and no reason to trust. My dad is lost in the lies that he has told and lost from the reality of his life.

None of us should feel too vengeful because they do get theirs in the end.


At 11:53 AM, Blogger Barbara said...

Graylor - you'd benefit from a book by Nina Brown called CHILDREN OF THE SELF ABSORBED.

I am an ACON (Adult Child of a Narcissist) as well as being divorced from an N male. They are mentally ill but they refuse to do anything about it - which makes them responsible, IMVHO

At 3:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pam, I think I was, for a long time, trying to prevent my H from ending up like your dad. I felt bad for H's sake, should have shifted MY loyalties sooner to feeling bad and protecting our children rather than sticking up for their dad (in the form of tolerating too much), and now I can hear it in the way I talk to the younger kids that I'm getting too close to doing what Ive tried so hard not to do, and that is turn them against their father. Trying to work out self protection and healing for all of us is taxing because everyone perceives things differently. And life keeps coming each day while we are trying to understand yesterday! GH and everyone- I too have read patricia evans. Much about abuse, passive aggressive stuff, narcissism, PDs, PTSD, all this starts to overlap and helps identify things to help sort through what we are experiencing and it is all good information to be knowledgeable on. Kathy you have been doing an awesome service by tracking and linking us to valuable resources. A sincere thankyou. jt

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everything you've described on your site about N's applies to the majority of faculty and Deans where I attend nursing school. I've witnessed slander, libel, games of keep away, capricious and arbitrary grading, false accusations of cheating, and harassment of male nursing students. We're put into a position of "needing" them, and we get the exact treatment you describe in this post. Does one: leave, sue them, or put up with the abuse?

At 6:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was eight months pregnant with my first child when my father-in-law died unexpectedly. I was broken hearted, as was my husband. My narcissistic "best friend" decided to skip the wake because my father-in-law reminded him too much of his own father who had died 18 years ago. And he couldn't go to the funeral because he had to go to work.

Two years later when my child was diagnosed with autism, he decided not to communicate with me because the person he was dating at the time thought it best to put me on the back burner and give me time to digest my situation. It wasn't his fault- it was the person he was dating that thought this was the best solution. Talk about wonders that never cease! This was the straw that broke the camel's back. I couldn't imagine ignoring one of my friends when they were in a tough situation. I never would have done that to him or anyone else. That was when I decided to cut him loose, to cut off all contact with him for good.


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