Monday, September 03, 2007

Happy Labor Day

Narcissists don't know what they're missing.

They think it feels good to tell people they're defective. They don't know the tremendous gratification in telling people the opposite - that they're good people, that they did something right, that they did something well, that they have a certain admirable personal quality, that they didn't deserve the abuse they got from some pathetic creep who has to tear others down to feel good about him- or her-self, that they didn't do wrong (even if the whole brain-dead world parrots the idiocy that self defense and even hurt feelings of anger and sadness are sins), and that they reacted to torment the way any normal person does.

Jeez, that's nothing but the plain truth, but when you do it you are amazed at the power of the stroke. It brings great and infectious joy to them!

Talk about being "effective." Who wouldn't want to do that? Plus, it warms one all the way through.

And what does it cost you?

You see, comfort is a kind of love: you get it by giving it away. No narcissist ever learned that.

The poor blokes. No wonder they're so miserable they want everyone else to be.

Another thing they never learn is how to be team players. So, they never experience the fulfillment in being something greater than the sum of its parts.

They don't know what they're missing.

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At 4:22 PM, Anonymous gh said...

Great post, Kathy. What a positive reminder for all of us on this holiday. What a gift it truly is to be able to experience community and genuine relationship with others. Whatever the abuses we've all dealt with from the narcissists in our lives, our ability to fell deeply, to care, to commune, is something they simply cannot take from us.


At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've been debating this very thing this last weekend with a very dear friend who seems to understand...i wonder at times if my NH does somehow know what he is missing and just opts out. ive done a 'good job' of alienating him from standoffish has worked-in that he seems to acknowledge that clue(FINALLY). he definitely seems to be keeping 'away' from me. he appears to be a better (more attentive and involved in the "fun stuff") father. the kids no longer are afraid of him. but instead of feeling joy for that,i feel sorrow and left out (NO-I DON'T WANT BACK IN ! the wounds are still gaping and oozing from previous times) I am fighting jealousy. i could use some tips and feedback on this...
hmmm...i lost my train of thought...
still struggling-jt

At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh maybe it was about how thrown off i feel by how genuine he seems (he appears more normal than he has for a long time... still odd in my perspective- but seems to be functioning in a normal way to and with other people) if he 'didn't know what he was missing' then how could he 'know' to try to get it back. feedback is appreciated...i can tell i'm starting to get depressed by all of this again jt

At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. One of the greatest things to come out of my divorce from my ex-N is that I have friends again! People I like and who like me and who I want to spend time with and who want to spend time with me now that I am not burdened with that evil, obnoxious, unpleasant man who did his best to look down his nose at every person I ever tried to befriend and associate with during our 12 years together.

I am having FUN again, I am laughing again, I have a sense of humor again. Narcissists kill all joy around them, like JK Rowlings' dementors, and only when you have been away from them for some time do you begin to blossom and rejoin the human race as a person worth being around! I am normal again, plain, boring old normal and it is wonderful.

Other than the part where I have to deal with my ex-N every day because of our two young children...but it is better than being married to him, that is for sure!

At 1:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think they feel they are missing something but donn't have a clue why they donn't realy get it, or how to realy get it.
To get real intimicy, love, friendship, you have to have the ability to realy respect and appriciate other people. Feel humble also sometimes.
This is impossible for people with NPD. They cann't help feeling grandiose and from that point of view they have to critisice and tear other people down. Especialy when things are going 'well', when they are in a possition of power and things are coming their way, they are as bad and evil like the devil himself.
But when things are going worse, when they lose their job, get older, lose their beauty, lose important people, they can panic and start feeling really depressed.
This is the time they can take some stairs back from the top of the staircase and seem to level up with 'common' people. They know how to mimic friendship, tenderness, love, and that's what they do; mimic it, cause I believe they donn't really feel it. In fact, deep within, they hate leveling up with you and these other 'common' people. But temporarely they feel they have no choice: some attention is better than nothing at all.
And when she- or he - by you- is back on her/his feet again, count on it that it starts all over again.
And in fact, someway it's not important in the end what the cause of their behaviour is- or was; NPD, APD, BPD, they've broken your trust in them so rigorous that if you really look at it you will know that it will never heal and come back. You'll always be afraid also.
I know it for myself and by that, in the end the most important reason I never let these people in anymore is that I know this trust is gone forever.

greetings, Gerard

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

That's the bottom line, Gerard. it doesn't matter how or why. It may be a moral issue, but may not be. In any case, that's not the thing to play judge about. You decide about people on the basis of whether you can trust them or not, not like a God who decides about them on the basis of whether they're "good" or "bad." That's a waste of time for us. And narcissistic in itself.

The only time it is of benefit to address the moral issue is in defense against those who accuse the victim of being "bad" by not trusting N and acting like it didn't happen just because the N is nice the day after. Then, and only then, does it mean something to examine the morality of both parties.

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks you guys. i think i'm on the right path. it sure is a long one isn't it ?!!! i feel bad for the kids. their path is even longer...jt

At 12:06 PM, Anonymous gh said...

jt -- I don't know your NH, of course, but is it possible that all this fun and good times with the kids is a show orchestrated precisely to have the effect it is having -- to make you feel excluded and jealous? Ride it out. To the extent he's being a good dad, be happy that the kids are doing well. And be prepared to pick up the pieces if/when he eventually lets them down.

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks. i'm on the right path as far as being able to share here. but i currently am experiencing great anxiety (which you've already helped ease). because we are still parents we HAVE to talk sometimes. recently one of our kids got in trouble so my anxiety is urgent. i feel like i'm getting forced into a trap. because i can't use reasoning or even reverse psychology with him BECUASE THEY WRITE THE SCRIPT AS THEY GO !!!!! i'm feeling quite doomed and apprehensive... i liked it better when i just felt angry...UGHHHH!!! jt i hate it when i feel like i'm going to lose MY wits!!!thanks for any reminders folks...

At 1:55 PM, Anonymous dandelion said...


Our husbands seem to be following similar patterns--some extended period of emotional abuse appearing at some point and then receding. Like yours, mine seems to be back to normal. But no matter how nice he gets, I will never look at him the same way again. That two-year period of being enemies has forever changed the way I feel about him. What it really did is expose his distorted and immature thinking, as well as his fundamental lack of compassion for me at his core.

What do you feel when you look at your husband? I alternate between sadness and disgust. The disgust is my gut warning me not to trust him again. As Gerard points out, once your trust has been betrayed like this, there's no going back.

It's a fascinating intellectual exercise to look at his "normal" behavior through my new lens and compare it to the old lens. It's amazing how much I overlooked and gave the benefit of the doubt just because I felt loved. I'm refering to various little oversights that I used to ascribe to him being absent-minded or scatter-brained. Even though this may still be true, now these same oversights are also a reminder and confirmation of his general lack of attention and consideration for me.

As for the kids, I know what you mean about the jealousy. I've had to make a conscious effort to step back and let our boys have as good a relationship as possible with him, because they are at an age where they're supposed to be drawing away from the mother and bonding more with the father. I decided as long as they continue to be respectful and responsible (i.e. as long as his immature behavior wasn't rubbing off on them), I would not interfere. At the same time, I continue to have my antennae up as I've always done, and am consistently attentive, reasonable, and reliable when they do come to me for something. I see my role as providing a secure base when they need it (and a positive contrast to when their father lets them down). So far so good--they are turning into fine young men.

Wishing you strength & hope, jt.

At 3:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, strenght and hope for you who expiernces this great anxiety. This feeling is terrible. Hold on to yourself, real friends and real help as much as possible I would say, if you donn't mind.

And I agree Kathy. The moral issue is not about persons but about behaviour. And their behaviour is called immoral all over the world and in every religion I know of. So, besides my own feelings about 'bad' and 'good', about their behaviour, which I donn't doubt anymore, there is plenty of support for their immorality from other sources.

But for me the person with NPD-behaviour is also a person.
I saw them suffer also, in their own way. I think it must be a very lonesome existence and I'am very glad I'am not in their shoes.

They seem to be caught in their behaviour and even in the most misserable circumstances their only anwser at last is always fall back on that superiour attitude whitch leaves them nothing at all in the end.
It may take us 1 year, 2 years or 10 years but we can come over it and find ourselfs again, be happy again. They are stuck live-long in this twighlight-zone, leaving a trail of misery but always alone in fact, without real love, friendship and real selfrespect and self-love.

Maybe one day the sources of NPD are know definitly and a real cure is available to them. It would be great for them but above all for their victims.
Till that day there is no use in fighting directly with these people.
You cann't win if your opponent cann't ever lose, doesn't know what it is, or means.
You can only defend yourself by avoiding them or -if nessecary- fight them with their own weapons.
But you can never really win I believe. If you want to do that you have to develope a NPD yourself. And even then their are only losers.

greetings, Gerard

At 7:53 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

If you really love that person, as is generally the case when they are a close friend or a member of your family, you are tempted again and again, to feel sorry for them. Every time you catch them in a moment of self awareness and see how sad and they become, you soften and feel sorry for them.

But eventually you learn to stop doing that. You have to. For it is the stick they handle you by. The moment they see you "weakening" (they view feelings as weakness), gone is their sadness. Oh, joy! They have you "back in their power again!"

Really. It happens every time. Yes even 100 times. Eventually you harden yourself. Because you must. It's a matter of surviving as a human being.

Do they do this calculatingly, to sucker you back to within striking distance? I'm not sure and frankly don't care because it doesn't matter: THEY DO IT.

That's what matters. That's the controlling fact. Trying to estimate their moral culpability by guessing whether they do it on purpose or not is a vain pursuit. The answer can be both "yes" and "no," because these are people who know a thing one minute and not the next.

During a moment of unwanted self awareness they probably know they are trying to sucker you into feeling sorry for them. But the next minute they have that knowledge repressed and are PRETENDING to be a hurt little puppy dog who deserves your sympathy. So, which minute do we judge them by?

Me? I judge them by the minute when they are in the real world. The rest is just an acting performance on stage that they get lost in.

You must steel yourself against sympathy for them. No, that doesn't mean you hate them, in the sense that you have strong negative emotions against them. It just means that you see them for what they are (a predator) and treat them accordingly.

Ask the tiger. Does she attack antelopes out of evil desire? No, to feed her hungry, starving cubs.

But do you want to be her next meal? We don't hate predators. We don't morally judge them. But I bet no sane person would go up to a whining lion and try to pull a painful splinter out of its paw.

Lion would be glad you did that...and then promptly eat you just because you are so close that you make an irresitable target for his predatory urges.

If the statistics about psychopaths are any indication, not all Ns came from unhappy homes or were abused themselves in the past. And if they were, they should be getting even with those who hurt them. That I could sympathize with. But instead that abusive parent becomes a god in their esteem and they take out their abuse on OTHERS, always the most defenseless and vulnerable. That and their cruelty makes any sympathy for them misplaced.

It's dangerous to misplace sympathy, love, or hate. But the most dangerous thing to misplace is trust.

Those we don't dare trust (like lions and tigers and bears and Ns) we must get and stay away from. Because our first obligation is to ourselves and the innocent.

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Lynn said...

To jt and Dandelion,
My partner is following the exact same path too. From him I'm withdrawn, disinterested, aloof, no eye contact and only sometimes engage in conversation with him. I even 'tell him off' from time to time if I feel his parenting is not on track or he's done something inconsiderate. I approach the conversation as if he's a 6 year old boy.

The amazing thing is he listens, and since the beginning of this year, he's been on a gradual process of behaviour improvement. He's stopped abusing our child in an overt type screaming fashion, instead he tries to weedle his way in with some light emotional stuff, but my antennae, like Dandelion, is always up and I intervene and set the record straight.

BUT....I know I can NEVER trust him again. As Dandelion I've endured 2 years of really bad following 2 years of mediocre bad behaviour but it entailed lies and deceit and they are dealbreakers for me. So I'm still on high alert, looking for trangressions that prove his inconsideration of me and our daughter which seems to be his core - just like Dandelion.

I've gone through the hating and loathing of him and now I'm indifferent. I couldn't care less about him. Someone asked me the other day how I was, and I answered I was having a great time. The lady is a member of my DV support group so you'd think I'd immediately tag her comment to the abuse I've received at home, but I didn't. She asked me how 'he' was, and my immediate thought was 'who?' I was pleased with this as it means my emotional detachment is almost complete. Which is a good base to spring from when I enter the next phase of our relationship - the leaving..!

Anyway, jt, I know exactly where you are at only I don't feel jealousy when I see him and our daughter interacting, I'm just biding my time until she's a bit older and I can feel better about him having any sort of access without me there. It's not an ideal situation, not by a long shot, but it's what I have to work with and I'm making the best of a bad bunch of tools I have.

I view it as at least while he's interacting with her he's not yelling and losing his temper, so that has got to be good. Eventually, she will work out for herself our different parenting styles and figure out which one she prefers, in the meantime, I view his 'better' behaviour one day at a time.

Patricia Evans in 2 of her books, Controlling People, and The Verbally Abusive Man covers the Teddy Illusion and the Dream Woman and this explains why they seem to 'come good' once they sense you are detaching themselves from you. It's all about them feeling like they own you, and how they plonk their unlived authentic self within you once they feel you are committed to the relationship. Once they've done this, they remove you out of your body and view you as an extension of themselves, viewing you not as a real person with your own authentic self, so when you speak up with an opinion they will fly into a rage because you are not doing what their Dream Woman (or Teddy) is supposed to be doing.

These psychological theories go along the lines of what Kathy wrote about recently with the Narc setting up a stage for his life and you being the main character, only the main character is a part of himself, the part he's never lived or felt comfortable with.

jt, your situation would make a whole lot of sense if you availed yourself to read her books. It sounds like Dandelion may have done so. I know that when I did read them, it was the last of the picture puzzle, and if you do read those books too you'll understand why you have that sinking feeling in your tummy that if you once again become emotionally committed to him, he'll revert right back to where he used to be - abusing the hell outta you and the kids because he will plonk his Dream Woman back in you thereby removing your authentic self.

You see, the abuser (N) must ALWAYS have a body to put his unlived authentic self in, it's imperative to him to have one, he's lost and bewildered until he finds a suitable vessel to fill, so if you act as if you are leaving, taking the body away, he'll do anything it takes to make that body stay (or go off looking for a new body, these are the Narcs that start affairs), that is how 'close' he feels to you.

I hope that makes some sense.

Sorry Kathy, a bit off topic to your BLOG post but I really wanted to help jt a little bit.

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

Lynn, I really like that explanation. Have just ordered the book. That's projective identification, which is usually described in fuzzy abstractions that don't sink in. But this way of putting it ("plonking his authentic self or the Dream Woman character into you) makes very clear what is happening.

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

fantastic everyone !!! you all understand !!! THANKYOU !!! i wish i could type faster ! i wish you all could have heard the sound that actually came out of me when i read lynn's last few paragraphs. i had read p. evans a while back... that is exactly what i've been trying to describe and 'name' for a long time- the 'placing themselves into you'...that's what got me so rattled the other day ! i've gained distance, but when the kid got in trouble (again) "WE" were called to the plate to be parents AND ONCE AGAIN i could HEAR him 'tagging onto' MY work and decisions and taking credit and also HUGE potential for another rage. that shook me--last rage was scary but it helped me reach many healthy conclusions. i didn't expect to be so afraid again at the (this time close) possibility. but thar's the problem-- we know it's not a matter of if-- it's a matter of when-- and the hard part is the confusion of when we'll have to duck. and we also know instinctively and from our experiences- if we duck at the wrong time (it wasn't an attack yet) and they catch on,then that could either trigger a rage or will add to their stock pile they are collecting to hit us with later. WOW AND WHEW !!!jt

At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

also you know what else is a lonely KNOWING that I AM THE "ONE" who he has chosen to be his...transplant ! i now KNOW and will never be able to truly explain or convince anyone of this knowledge. except of course you guys. which by the way is a HUUUUGE relief and help. T H A N K Y O U jt

At 2:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I think that's what projective-identification is about: they try planting their lies, cruelty, doubts and all their 'considerd weak and bad' personality traits into you and others. If they succeed you become the person they really are within: no selfrespect, paranoïd, full of doubt and contempt, jaleous, feeling very small, angry and so on.
Then you become their proof they are superior to you also and they can go on stay living in their fantasie world.
If you can stay firm and return all their projections to themselfs they lose all interrest in you. But before that, when no intimidation has effect anymore, they try to hold a grip on you by showing off their sad-victim-part.

I also found it to be the hardest part. I 'weakened' and came back time after time.

As you say Kathy, it's this 'weakness' of you they misuse to stay in control after you have given in.

My mother used it all her live on me her husband (and her other children). And for I didn't know anything about NPD, she always succeeded till I found out about NPD 3 years ago. No matter how cruel, denigrating, without empathy and not-interested-in-me she was, she always succeeded with this sad-victim-role to pull me back in and I started trying to help her again.
And offcourse hoping now things would change and she'll become that loving mother I'd always wanted.
As you will guess; it never happened.
Even in the hospital with dead in sight, she was orchestrating everyone around her, driving the nurses and docters that crazy, that they called a psychiatrist in to evaluate her and give them advice. She continued splitting her children and by doing that drive them apart from each other even more.
She devaluated my father so effectively for years, that he started drinking more and more. Using this also to devaluate him even more but buying the beer herself also (=absolut control).
When there was left almost nothing of him, she finished it of by starting an affair with another man. Leaving her children (I was 19, the others 12, 14, 16 and 17) every weekend with a completly devestated and very ill father who went to hospital trying to get clean and start again. But it was too late. I visited him almost every day. She never did. She just went on leaving us and the situation from friday till monday.
He came back home and it looked he was doing better. I thought I could take a holiday. But during that holiday he killed himself.
My mother wasn't there. She was with her boyfriend. Only the three youngest were at home with a social-security worker my father waited for to be there as he did his deed.
When I heard the news I hurried back home as fast as I could from France to be in time for the funeral.
He died on Friday and I heard the news on saturday-evening. The first train I could catch was on sunday evening so I told home that I would be home early tuesdaymorning.
When I arrived my mother was sitting there and my sisters and brothers. Guess what. She did the funeral the day before..
The only thing my mother said was:'and now we start a hole new live together, with Nuri'(her new partner).
For her things went on as if nothing happened..No support for us, nothing. Till her own death she tried to blame my father for what she did.

This story now just floats from my fingers. I donn't want to evoke pity in you or something like that.
For me it illustrates what projective-identification can do.
It can drive you to suïcide.

And sure SHOWING pity for these people is misplaced. They only use it to misuse you even further.
I can feel some pity for that lost soul who for whatever reason became like this. But that's were it ends cause I know now how dangerous it is to show it to them and act accordingly.
They'll misuse it rightaway.

greetings, Gerard

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous dandelion said...


Maybe this pattern of behavior that our (jt, Lynn, and my) husbands have in common isn't what you associate with "malignant narcissism." I see it as driven more by control issues than hurting others for the sake of hurting them. It also isn't constant over time (what I earlier referred to as temporary or situational). Our husbands may not be "malignant" enough that immediate escape is imperative, or that the kids need to be kept from them.

But clearly, your writings and descriptions of the abuse and other behavior of malignant narcissists strike a chord with us, even if our husbands don't entirely fit your representation.

Maybe the reason I'm drawn to the word "malignant" is because that describes what his behavior has done to our relationship. Our relationship, if not outright healthy at the start, was at least workable, and would have been for the long term, except for that "disease" that struck him for two years. Whatever it was went into remission, but the damage is done--the organism is doomed.


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