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I recently came across an excellent article by Kim Saeed titled “Why Narcissists Discard You at the Worst Possible Times”. This is one of the most accurate articles that I have ever read on this aspect of narcissism. I shared this on my Facebook page, and several people commented on how true the article was, so I thought it would be a good idea to do an actual blog post on this topic. The link to Kim’s article on her website is at the end of this blog post, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has or is currently dealing with a narcissist.
In her article, Kim talks about how a narcissist will discard a victim at a stressful time in his/her life in order lure the sufferer into triangulation or trauma bonding. In my case, I believe triangulation played a role, but trauma bonding not so much because I didn’t play by the “narcissist’s playbook”. My ex decided to ask me for a divorce at the absolute lowest point in my life – I had two failed lower back surgeries, just had a brain aneurysm, and my father was sick with cancer. I could no longer work due to my back issues. He asked for the divorce just when I was cleared for my third back surgery after recovering from my brain aneurysm. I was shocked as I never saw it coming. He said that we “needed some time apart” and I agreed to that (not knowing that this is all part of the narcissist’s plan). I went to my parent’s house for four days, and when I came home, he had divided up all our assets and told me what I would be getting and what he would take. I was so confused, so I asked him what had happened – why did he do this when we were just supposedly “taking some time apart to think about things”? He just brushed me off, and I knew at that moment that he never had any intention of working toward saving our marriage. The next week, I found hidden e-mails – he had been having an affair. Kim describes this actual type of event in her article below.
After reading this article, I realized that this was triangulation. He attempted to stay a part of my life for the first few months, even insisting on visiting me in the hospital after my third surgery. I refused. He had a plan as to how the entire separation/divorce would play out, but I didn’t play his game. Instead, I retained an attorney. Everything he had planned to do (division of assets for example) did not happen as he wished. He became a person that I did not recognize. He yelled, insisted that I get rid of my attorney, demanded the return of the e-mails to him, etc. etc. I didn’t give in. I wanted out. Now, I have to say that I did at one point ask him to go to counseling and asked for a try at reconciliation, but I really didn’t want to do this. I did it because the Divorce Care class at my church taught our group that we should always try for reconciliation before moving to divorce. I gave it a weak try, but I really wanted out. So, the trauma bonding really didn’t happen in my case. I shut the door and didn’t re-open it, and this certainly made him very angry. The anger that he exhibited during that time is also known as narcissistic rage. His behavior was all textbook.
Please read Kim’s article below – you’ll be so glad you did. I was!!
Today I would like to discuss the topic of self-awareness. I love this topic as becoming self-aware has made a huge difference in my life. I realized during counseling that I had no sense of self-awareness during those years when I dealt with narcissistic individuals. As previously stated in my blog on the “false-self”, I actually wore a “mask” at this point in my life. It was during that time that I was not true to my own self.
Self-awareness refers to the ability to clearly perceive your own thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. It gives you the ability to understand your own needs, feelings, habits, talents, and even shortcomings. I think of it as a way to learn to love yourself for who you truly are, accepting both your strengths and your weaknesses. By becoming more self-aware, you can change how you interpret the actions of other people, and this can change your emotions toward them.
During my pre-counseling years, I allowed narcissistic individuals to “mold” me into a person that they wanted me to be. I was given family furniture and was told to never give it away, and I was given decorations for my home that I hated. I was told how to landscape my yard. I was told over and over again to go to the gym. I played sports that I hated because that’s what they wanted to do. Vacations were spent in places where they wanted to go. The food that I cooked had to be what they liked, and they were extremely picky eaters. I was even told how to vote! I gave in to all their wishes as I was a people-pleaser. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time. I knew I was unhappy, but I didn’t know why.
During counseling, I realized that I had been wearing a “mask”. One of my biggest loves in life is dancing, but I rarely did that during those years because that’s not what they liked to do. I love to cook and try out new dishes, but I was very limited on my ability to do that because of their demands. I was a choreographer for years when I was younger and have a very creative side; however, I couldn’t express that side of me during the years I dealt with narcissism (house decorating, landscaping). In fact, I will never forget saying to my counselor, “I’ve lost my creative side.” Her response to me made such a huge difference: “You haven’t lost it. It was just stifled.” I learned that the “mask” that I had been presenting to everyone was that of my false self. I wasn’t self-aware.
Since becoming self-aware, I am so much more at peace with myself. I have learned to love myself for who I truly am – both strengths and weaknesses. I am unable to dance like I used to because of a back injury, but I love to watch dance shows. I decorate my home now according to my tastes, not someone else’s, and I get complimented on it all the time. In fact, I have been told that I should have been an interior decorator! As far as cooking, I have joined Blue Apron which is a company that delivers food with directions on how to cook the meals. Since joining, I have eaten all kinds of food that I’ve never even heard of, and I am loving it! I now make my own decisions, and I am true to my own beliefs and values.
My advice is to learn to love yourself for who you truly are. Don’t allow someone else to dictate how you will live your life or what you will believe. It’s not worth it. If someone truly loves you, he/she will accept and love you for you, not for what they can mold you into for their happiness. Be proud of who you are!
Have a great day, everyone!
As I stated in last blog, I am starting a new project. I want to turn a negative into a positive, so I have decided to write a series of blogs on narcissism. During the past five years, I have learned that I have dealt with narcissists and believe that some of these people actually had narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
Today I want to discuss the false self and how it plays a role in narcissism. Those who are emotionally and mentally healthy have a great sense of self-awareness and live their life according to their “true self”. These people appreciate their own talents and use them accordingly not only to benefit themselves, but also to benefit others and the world as a whole. These healthy individuals feel sympathy/empathy for those around them, and they use their abilities to help others while maintaining a healthy appreciation for their abilities.
The false self that is typical of someone with NPD is a type of “mask” that he/she wears so that the world will view them as special or superior. Studies have shown that the narcissist creates this identity in order to protect themselves from negative emotions such as depression regarding the circumstances of his/her own life. By creating this “mask”, the narcissist is actually lying to himself and those who are around him, but he truly believes the lie. Now, I have to clarify that there are other types of “masks” that people wear, and these “masks” may be due to confusion or a lack of self-awareness. I believe that I actually unknowingly wore a “mask” during my pre-counseling years, and I will get into that in a later blog. The difference between these types of “masks” and the “mask” of a narcissist is that the narcissistic “mask” is worn for selfish purposes.
The false self increases feelings of self-worth for the narcissist. The big difference between someone living according to their true self and a narcissist who lives according to the false self is that the narcissist believes that the only thing that matters is his/her happiness. He/she gives no regard to the feelings of others and will do whatever is necessary for his/her happiness, even if that means hurting others in the process. They live in a way that makes them feel better about who they are and their life circumstances. A narcissist that I know left his wife for another woman. When confronted with the affair, he told his wife that he received some advice, and more than likely this advice came from another narcissist. He said that the advice was “to do whatever made him happy”. There was no concern at all on the damage that it would cause to other people, including his wife. Interestingly, this man was a part of a so-called Christian family who supposedly believed that you should “do unto others and you would have done to you”. Do you see the problem here? It’s pretty clear.
The intention of the false self is to control how people respond to the narcissist. He/she needs constant praise, attention, and admiration. This praise, attention, and admiration is called “narcissistic supply”. As long as you (as a narcissistic victim) give him/her the praise and attention he/she craves, the narcissist will keep you around. If you start to complain about his/her behavior or give criticism, he/she will respond with anger and extreme defensiveness, and he/she may even go as far as “discarding” you and finding new sources of the “narcissistic supply”. Those who have NPD will go to great lengths to protect this false self image.
A perfect example of the reaction of a narcissist to criticism is shown below. Names have been changed, but this is based on an actual event.
Jim and Rhonda were visiting their son and daughter-in-law, John and Kay, who lived in another state. John had a brother, Steve, and Steve’s family was a mess. Steve’s wife, Susan, left him for another man. Steve and Susan had two children – Beth and Philip. Both Beth and Philip were in high school at the time. Steve was so distraught that he abandoned his children and moved to another state to be with another woman. Beth and Philip were left in the care of the Steve and John’s parents.
Rhonda: I just can’t believe what Susan has done to Steve! She has been a problem throughout the entire marriage. It’s terrible what she has done to those kids!
Kay: Yeah, it’s terrible what Susan did. But, you know, Steve did leave the kids with you and Jim. He’s kinda…
Rhonda: What do you mean?
Kay: Well, he’s kinda responsible too.
Rhonda: Steve has been great to those kids!
Kay: But he did leave them while they were still in high school. He left them with you…
Rhonda: Steve has been an awesome dad to those kids. I WILL NOT let you talk bad about Steve. He’s a super dad! I WILL NOT let you talk about Steve like that. The problem in this situation is Susan, not Steve. Don’t you dare talk down about my son – he’s been a great father to those kids. Susan is the problem!!
OK, so there are actually two signs of narcissism in this example. First, as stated above, if a narcissist is criticized, they become very angry and defensive. Second, narcissists never take blame for anything. I think it is quite obvious in this example that Steve did carry part of the blame in this situation by abandoning his kids, leaving them with his parents, and moving to another state. Even though this is quite clear to the onlooker, the mom refused to let her son take any responsibility for his part in the breakup of his family.
I will address the issue of the narcissist placing the blame on others and his/her inability to take responsibility for his/her actions in my next blog.
Have a great day!
Image at Creative Commons, http://www.lillylulu123.deviantart.com/art/Crying-Eye-315830804
“Narcissism falls along the axis of what psychologists call personality disorders, one of a group that includes antisocial, dependent, histrionic, avoidant and borderline personalities. But by most measures, narcissism is one of the worst, if only because the narcissists themselves are so clueless.“
It took me almost 49 years to learn the meaning of true fulfillment and true peace. I had to go through an extended period of living in a narcissistic environment and looking for life’s meaning through materialistic goals before realizing that I was way off target. I am currently in the process of writing a fiction book about narcissism that is based on a true story, but I wanted to share some basic facts on this blog about narcissism to help those who are having to deal with others with this personality disorder.
For many years, I was living in an environment surrounded by people with narcissism, but I didn’t realize it. I had heard of the word “narcissism” but really didn’t know much at all about it and honestly, I didn’t care to know. Little did I know that I was surrounded by narcissistic behavior and that I had been a victim of narcissistic abuse for quite some time.
Basically, narcissists are very selfish people. They are known to lack empathy for others and are known for always placing the blame on others rather than taking responsibility for their own actions. In my case, I was made to feel like I was the problem even if the issue had absolutely nothing to do with me. This led to me questioning myself constantly which eventually led to depression. I knew deep down inside that this thinking was twisted, but I managed to always make excuses rather than face the difficult decision to end these destructive relationships. The best way to describe it was that my soul was restless, and I did not have true inner peace. To satisfy the narcissist’s demands, I was continually finding that I had to turn my back on my own values. This struck right at the core of my soul, and I was miserable.
Thankfully, these destructive relationships did come to an end through the action of the actual narcissist. I was no longer any use to this person, so I was left as if I was a piece of garbage. However, this was probably the best thing that ever happened to me as I it opened the door to my healing.
The following are some of the characteristics of someone with a narcissistic personality disorder:
1. Lack of remorse for their mistakes
2. Does not care about the consequences of his/her actions
3. Pathological lying
4. Very charming; can get emotional in public, but this is all a show to manipulate others
5. Expects victim to follow along without question. He/she tells victim what to do rather than ask.
6. Controls spending of others, but he/she spends freely on themselves
7. He/she doesn’t listen simply because they don’t care
8. Gaslighting – manipulative behavior, takes advantage of others
9. Projects faults onto others – blaming others for their problems
10. Lack of empathy – doesn’t care about the needs or feelings of others
11. Highly contradictory
12. Breaks others down that they feel are inferior
13. Thinking he/she is better than others
14. Core of concern is power, success, attractiveness
15. Needs to be center of attention and requires constant praise
16. Appears unemotional
17. Easily hurt or rejected
Narcissists come across as being very egocentric and sure of themselves, but the root of the problem, believe it or not, is insecurity. It has been shown that those affected by this personality disorder are actually very insecure and they use the above behaviors to feel better about themselves.
Recovering from narcissistic abuse can be a long process, but you can recover and live a truly fulfilling life. First and foremost, you must realize that YOU ARE NOT THE PROBLEM! The narcissist can be very cunning and manipulative. It is important that you realize this. If you are with someone who refuses to take responsibility for his/her actions and wants to blame everyone else for their problems, the best thing to do is to get out of that relationship if possible. Narcissists do not want to change and they do not want to be criticized in any way, shape or form. In fact, “narcissistic rage” is a known feature of this personality disorder, and they can become very mean and vindictive when questioned. The narcissist has the problem, not you!
Realize that no matter what you say or do, the narcissist will not have sympathy or empathy for any of your problems, no matter what they are. If the problems do not directly affect him/her in some way, they don’t care if you are suffering. Remember, they are the center of their world, and the rest of the world are just puppets to be manipulated so that they can get what they want. They truly believe “the ends justify the means” no matter who they have to run over to get there.
Next, remember that narcissists truly believe that they are always right. It is pointless to get into an argument with them because you will never win. They will end up making you question your own sanity because they are expert manipulators. Additionally, narcissists believe that they don’t need any help. Counseling a narcissist is very difficult because they will not admit to shortcomings.
Bottom line – if you feel like you are in a relationship with a narcissist, please get some help. Leave the relationship if possible. Be educated about how narcissists function so you can deal with them as effectively as possible. Trust your intuition…..if you feel something is wrong, it probably is!
As for me, I am now at a place of true fulfillment and peace. By going through the healing process, I have not only learned how to recognize this personality disorder but I have also learned how to deal with this type of person more effectively. But the biggest lesson of all is the lesson of selfishness vs. selflessness. Over the past several years, I have been a volunteer at a thrift shop and found immense happiness in helping those who are less fortunate. I have also started up a website on adenomyosis (similar to endometroisis) which I suffered from for 17 years. Women from all over the world are accessing this site, and I constantly get “thank you” messages for making this information available to them and for letting them know that they are not alone. I am also writing this blog to help to inspire others to become the best they can be.
But the most important thing of all is putting all of my trust in God. Without Him, I would never have been able to come as far as I have in the healing process. He has literally carried me through some of the toughest times of my life.
Between trusting God completely, helping others, and putting other’s needs before my own, I have finally found true happiess, peace and fulfillment. I realize now that selfishness in the form of narcissism will never bring true happiness. Looks, finances, material objects, etc. will all vanish one day, but the selfless acts of a Christian person will never be forgotten. God not only saved me, but he showed me the way to true happiness. Selflessness is the key. My soul is finally at peace.
“For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Psalms 1:6
“The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors……For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as a shield.” Psalms 5: 5-6, 12
“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Narcissistic Personality Disorder, http://www.mayoclinic.org
Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse, by Andrea Schneider, LCSW, http://www.goodtherapy.org