Monthly Archives: February 2014

Basking in the warmth of narcissistic parents

For the 4 years that my narc was wreaking havoc on my life, my family knew little to nothing about the situation. After my mother’s reaction to my last break-up 4.5 years ago (“Oh that’s too bad he broke up with you. Regardless of how he treated you, I was excited I’d finally have a son-in-law I liked.”), I decided to opt out of including her in anything personal in my life again.

However, I decided towards the end of last year to have everyone meet my narc. I don’t actually care about my family – they’ve let me down far too many times for me to allow them any significant role in my life anymore – but I thought it would be interesting to watch how everyone interacts. I also had already begun to realize how much like my dad my narc was, so it was a bit of an experiment to put them in the same space to see what happens. Two people who both think they’re so charming, both always need to be right – this should be good. And it was. Dad adored narc, at one point gleefully exclaiming “I can see that you, (narc), are one of those rare people – you are a very intelligent man!” Eyeroll. Gag. Suspicions confirmed.

So, now that the relationship is over, it’s interesting to see how my family has responded.

Mother: “So now tell me what happened with (narc)?”

Me: “He was a jerk, he’s not a good guy.”

Mother: “Ah, I knew it! When I met him, I liked him at first but then I noticed it was always about him and by the end I didn’t like him anymore. That’s why I asked. I wanted to know I was right.”  <end of conversation>

Oh good, I’m glad you were right. For a second I thought you might be asking because you actually cared about me and how I’m doing, but that was a crazy thought. Silly me. Please carry on about how right you were. I wouldn’t want to spoil this delightful victorious moment for you.

Father: “I wonder if you could indicate to me where to look for a good description and definition of that disorder. Does it affect both genders or is it characteristic for males only?”

I send him a couple of links.

Feather: “When I finish the reading I shall tell you why I have been asking.”

Anyone want to bet that he’s not asking because he wants to better understand what I’ve been through so he can support me? Either he’s diagnosing his parents or, more likely, my mother.

In the meantime, father’s wife (with whom I have had no direct contact about this breakup) sends me an email:

Stepmom: ” I don’t think your dad is narcissistic, he is more of the opposite.  Often he loses temper out of frustration and some sort of inferiority complex.”

Um yeah, stepmom, he’s a narc. That’s not even up for debate, but thanks.

OK so let’s stop harping on the parents. In anticipation of visiting my sister and brother-in-law who just had a new baby, my brother-in-law asked if I’ll be bringing my narc with me.

Me: “I broke up with (narc) a few weeks ago so I definitely won’t be bringing him.”

Brother-in-law: “We liked him!”

Me: “‎Ugh don’t tell me that. He was an abusive asshole alcoholic. He hid it well though.”

Brother-in-law: “But he was good with (our daughter) and that is about as far down our noses as (your sister) and I see. I trust that he didn’t hurt you…..”

Me: “Oodles of emotional abuse but never laid a hand on me. Anyway, I’d be quite happy if his name didn’t come up on the weekend.” <no response>

That weekend, in front of my son and mother and niece, one of the first questions out of my sister’s mouth:

Sister: “So what happened with (narc)?”

Me: “I don’t want to talk about it.”

If only I had clearly stated my wishes that I didn’t want it to come up at the family event. Oh wait, I did.

—-

There is one last family  member – my brother who lives across the country. He was actually the first person I told about the relationship ending – I guess it felt safer because he is the farthest away. I’ve always felt that he’s a lot like my mother, though, so I guess this exchange shouldn’t have surprised me:

Brother: “Mom said you have a new sweetie.”

Me: “I broke up with him 2.5 weeks ago. It was that alcoholic I told you about. It’s been a brutal 4 year rollercoaster with him. She knows nothing about it.”

Brother (5 days later): “More snow… I’m going to die of it this year.”

That’s a wrap folks. Final family empathy score: zero. Moving on.

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Narcissist checklist

narcissist checklist

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Allowing myself to become who I’ve always been

Allowing myself to become who I've always been

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I don’t care if you were born this way

I don't care if you were born this way

Triggered by the Bachelor

OK first of all, yes, I watch the Bachelor – please don’t judge! It started off as a joke last year, my friend and I having texting dates every Monday to mock the show, but I must admit it’s become a guilty pleasure I indulge in every week.

This season has been tough, though, because I have had this consistently nagging feeling the bachelor is a narcissist.  Every week he has seemed really insincere, never listened properly, was condescending and patronizing to the women, etc. I was seeing too many familiar signs in him and it was making me uncomfortable.

Last night, one of the final 3 girls called him out it. She didn’t know to call him a narcissist, but she named all the same things I had felt with my narc: he didn’t ask about her, constantly turned every topic immediately back to himself, barely knew anything about her but professed to adore her, shushed her whenever she tried to raise an issue, didn’t seem to really care about her feelings, talked about his relationship with other girls to her, etc.

When she confronted him, he reacted with no emotion – ‘it’s ok, I can’t make you feel what you don’t feel’. He denied saying what she distinctly remembered him saying – they fought fiercely over whether or not he used the word “default”. He turned the blame on her, the fact that she was ‘fighting’ in that way was just so ugly to him, and why should it be an issue for him to talk about his other date when she knows he’s seeing other women. He joked about her annoyance of how dismissive it was that he responded to everything with ‘it’s ok’ , pointing out how she said ‘it’s ok’ in a sentence, even though the context when she said it was not the same as the context in which he said it. I keenly remember that feeling of confusion when they make a point that is literally true (ok, yes I did say ‘it’s ok’) but knowing it’s not a valid point for the current conversation.

He accepted no responsibility, he placed all the blame elsewhere. The same man who had just been saying he thought she could be his future wife was suddenly completely indifferent to her. Wow, what a familiar scene.

I was immediately taken back to the frustration and hopelessness of those crazy-making fights when I kept grasping for logic that seemed to stay just out of reach. It’s such a helpless feeling. Seeing it play out on national television was unbelievable. I started to feel that desperate feeling of wanting to escape but not knowing why, or where to go.

I checked the Twitter feed and of course there were lots of people cheering for the girl for having the strength and wisdom to walk away, others slamming him for being a jerk, but then there was that small contingent that blamed her. They thought she should just let it go, stop harping on him, stop overreacting, etc.

No wonder we survivors band together the way we do. We know the truth, we understand the pain and frustration. Validation is an essential part of healing and it sure is tough to get it ‘out there’. We have no choice but to go into self-protection mode and carefully select who we tell our stories to lest we get more invalidating messages from the people around us. Goodness knows we’ve already had enough invalidation to last us a lifetime.

Afterward, as our bachelor girl was being driven away, she wondered if her standards were too high, if she would be alone forever. Boy, can I relate to those doubts. He had me feeling that way for 4 years before I finally smartened up. My response now: I don’t care if I’m alone forever, it’s better than spending even another day with him. Thanks for the reminder, Bachelor.

Feeling my feelings

Sometimes I just cry. Not because anything in particular has happened, not because I’ve remembered anything specific. I just suddenly feel it welling up inside and, the next thing I know, I’m sobbing.

The first few times this happened I was confused and tried to figure out what I was crying about. But a few days ago I had a realization. All of the times over the last 4 years that I felt hurt, embarrassed, ashamed, insulted, neglected, attacked, etc and I stayed silent, those feelings got tucked away. I was too busy surviving, I couldn’t afford to feel the sad.

Now that I’ve finally cut off contact, it’s safe for me to feel my feelings. Now it’s safe to feel sad because it won’t be turned against me. It’s safe to be vulnerable because he’s not here to attack me. 

I still have this image in my head of our last fight. It was a marathon fight that ended at 5:30 a.m. I was sitting on the bed, in the darkness, shoulders slumped, head hanging down. So defeated. Every time I had tried to say something he yelled over me or immediately cut me off. I had no voice anymore. I’d never been a pushover in a relationship, and here I was silent and passive. I didn’t even cry. Everything just felt so hopeless I didn’t even have tears for it anymore. I was empty.

When I think that was just one time, and there were so many others over the years, there must be so much that I tucked away. Every day, every hour there was something, big or small. So many things he did to control me. I just stayed quiet. I rarely cried. I didn’t yell. I had emotionally numbed myself.

So now when I find myself inexplicably crying, I remind myself that I’m catching up on all those feelings I couldn’t let myself feel over the last 4 years and that’s a good thing because it’s a sign that I’m safe now. This is part of my healing journey. I don’t want to carry those feelings as baggage into future relationships. I want to work through this and finish it so that I can become a stronger, better version of myself and set the stage for a happy psychopath-free future.

These are healing tears. Bring ’em on. 🙂

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Narcissists want you to apologize

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