The Narcissistic Pattern

IMG_5025Being attractive meant that Jesse got a lot of attention. She was regularly asked out and was often disappointed to find that her suitors were disappointing. (and when I write “she”, I mean “he” as well. The sexes in this scenario are arbitrary. This can be written exactly the same with any genders). Her looks drew them in but then, once she was in the relationship, things felt flat, unrewarding and she questioned whether or not there were any men that actually wanted more than to be seen with her.

Jamie was different. He asked all about her, pursued her relentlessly and made her feel secure and loved. Having a history of short, unrewarding relationships, Jesse was careful, but Jamie understood. He had been hurt before. He confided in Jesse that he did not know why he picked such troubled women but they had all turned out to be “not quite right”. He said that his last girlfriend was almost certifiable.

He was willing to take it slow. He told Jesse how he dreamed of breaking out of his rut, starting a family, perhaps moving to a new town. These notions appealed to Jesse and his interest in her was unquestionable. Calls, gifts, dinners and surprises were all part of this perfect package. Jamie got along well with her friends and always had something exciting to talk about, people he had met, things he was going to do.

Jesse fell hard for Jamie. The whirlwind romance continued for weeks and Jamie got a new job in another town and asked her to go with him. Jesse had already said that moving to a new town was appealing to her and when she hesitated, Jamie pointed this out. He had only looked in other towns because she said she would like it. She knew it was too soon, but she had never been more sure of anything and quickly said yes. He was her soul mate. This man wanted all of the same things, doted on her and was very romantic. Problem was, it was all a lie.

The stress of the move, living with someone new and living in a new town all caused strife. Jesse knew they were arguing a lot, but isn’t that normal under so much stress? Jamie’s new job gave him more reason to be tense. His direct supervisor turned out to be a jerk and he was having trouble getting along in his new working environment. Jesse took a low paying job, the only job that she could get quickly, and thank-goodness, because Jamie quit right away. How could he be expected to work in such an unreasonable situation?

Jesse now found herself living in a new town, no friends or family around, working to keep the two of them afloat and Jamie was no longer kind. He criticized her for being selfish, not realizing how difficult it was for him to have to rely on her income. He wanted her to feel sorry for him and take care of him and if she encouraged him to get work, there was always an excuse why that couldn’t happen. He would blow up at her and accuse her of being a bitch, trying to control him, acting like his mother.

Jesse wondered what she had done wrong. Where was the romantic Jamie that was so concerned about how she felt? Where were the flowers? Why didn’t he dote on her like he did before? Why couldn’t he even do laundry? She was the one that worked all day. She tried harder. She wouldn’t complain or make demands. She knew the entire situation had been hard on Jamie. He would come out of it if she was just patient enough.

Each time Jesse worked up the nerve to leave, Jamie would become the thoughtful Jamie again. He would apologize, make promises and remember to do something sweet. Jesse knew the nice guy was still in there and she couldn’t make sense of the ups and downs. Things were either great or terrible. There did not seem to be a middle ground that lasted very long.

Her friends were all in a different town and when she said that she was going home for the weekend to visit, Jamie became incensed. Obviously she didn’t care about him or how he was feeling. He accused her of being selfish and thoughtless. The more she stood up for herself, the more demeaning Jamie got. He was now questioning whether or not he had chosen another wacko. Jamie accused Jesse of being insane. Jesse did her best to avoid fights, do what she could to placate Jamie and his abuse got worse.

Jamie started to go out late most nights. Since Jesse had to work early in the morning, she asked him to try to be quiet when he came home, so as not to wake her. Jamie started to bang the door a few times when he came in and blare the television set. He would prove to her that she couldn’t control him.

If some of the elements in this story ring true, you may have chosen abusive partners before. Here is what you need to pay attention to:

Jamie’s Red Flags

1. His last relationship, or a pattern of relationships, with people that are considered “crazy” or “insane’.

A history of very bad relationships is not a coincidence.

2. Intense romantic overtures early in the relationship. Rule of thumb is that if it would make you feel uncomfortable to match the gifts, surprises and compliments one for one, they are probably excessive.

Over “giving” and pursuing early in a relationship is not normal.

3. Early plans to make major changes in the way things are like moving away, starting a new career, spending a year travelling (with no clear means to pay for it).

Making major life changes early in a relationship is dangerous.

Things to Understand

1. Fights are Normal — Abuse is Not

All relationships have conflict, but the type of fight and the intensity can be pathologic. Someone that actually loves you does not put you down, physically hurt you or call you names. When Jamie started accusing Jesse of being insane, it was not an “argument” it was an attempt to control her. It was abusive.

2. Your needs are important

A partner should respect your needs. If you want to visit friends, this is not an attack on your partner. If you want a hobby, time to yourself, to pursue other interests, a person that loves you will support you.

3. Sharing the Work can be Expected

It is reasonable to get help both financially and physically from your partner to do the work of living. Asking for help and expecting to receive it are legitimate parts of a mutually respectful relationship.

History Repeats Itself

Too often, a pattern of finding a pathological partner stems from your experience of other relationships. If all you have ever witnessed is:

love is conditional on good behaviour,

people are mean to get their way and/or

really intense good times are followed by really bad times

then it can be hard to know that this is not normal. This is hurtful and abusive and only you can choose to not be in the relationship.

 

Narcissist_frontcover

A Narcissist on “The Good Wife”?

http://tvline.com/2015/11/01/the-good-wife-recap-alicia-jason-drinks-sex/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
http://tvline.com/2015/11/01/the-good-wife-recap-alicia-jason-drinks-sex/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
He is gorgeous, swarthy and confident. Jason, the new investigator on the series, “The Good Wife” swept in at the beginning of the season and has become the “bad boy” of the show. He flagrantly lies, has been disbarred for punching a judge and he is using his sex appeal to blind Alicia to his true colours.

But is he a narcissist? The writers dropped that possibility into the plot when Alicia called for a job reference and the man she was speaking to asked if she was thinking of hiring Jason. When she replied that she was, the man emphatically said, “No, no, no, no” and then went on to explain what a narcissist is and what they can do to your life.

So far, the writers have many of the characteristics bang on. He is attractive, confident, flexible with the truth, oblivious to laws and social conventions and for all appearances has been very successful. Or at the very least, he is able to demand top dollar for his services. He is also “new in town” which is characteristic. Once people become aware of a narcissist, the narcissist has no choice but to leave and start over in a new town. 

Jason mentioned last episode that he is up all night. This is my personal experience of the narcissists that I have known, but I don’t know if this is an actual “trait”. Let me know if the narcissist in your life sleeps erratically.

So we’ll have to see what develops this week. If Jason turns out to be a narcissist it will go a long way to helping “others” understand why people get involved with them in the first place. We know Alicia has one foot in the door.

A narcissist on “The Good Wife”? We don’t know yet for sure.

Narcissism Navigated — Top 21 Narcissism Posts

Whether you are dating a narcissist, want to leave one, think you might have one in your life, want to know how to spot one or protect yourself from one, I have probably written a blog or a book about it. Here is a summary of the most informative posts that I have on this site.

Identifying a Narcissist

1.   10 Things You Need to Know About Narcissists 

2.   The Confusion of Spotting a Narcissist

3.   Are you living with a Narcissist?

 Dating and the Narcissist

4.   Top 10 Signs You are Dating a Narcissist

5.   My Soulmate is a Narcissist

6.   The Narcissistic Pattern

7.   10 Ways to Discourage Narcissists from Dating You

8.   My Friend is Dating a Narcissist What Should I do?

9.   Narcissist Attack

10. The Chemistry of Connection

Family Matters

11. Leaving the Narcissist

12. No Contact now Possible when Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

13. Narcissists and the Legal System

You and Narcissism

14. Protecting Yourself from the Narcissist

15. Why Were You With a Narcissist? (3 parts)

16. 6 Traits You Can Attribute to Being with a Narcissist (3 parts)

17. Co-dependency and Narcissism

18. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Narcissism

19. Post Narcissism — Searching for Normal

20. Outsmarting the Narcissist

Interesting Tid Bits

21. A Narcissism Test??

Anecdotes from my life are done in a series entitled: Scenes from the Front Line (They all have links to the other posts in the series):   Narcissism–Scenes From the Front Line — The Fax

My Book

Narcissist_frontcover

If you would like to be notified when my next book is released let me know, click here.

 

Shot of Cover

I hope that this summary is helps you to navigate my site.

 

 

 

Post Narcissism — Searching for Normal

IMG_2077One of the questions that I often get on my blog is, “How do you fully recover from a narcissist?” As I am currently in the process, I’ll let you know what I have tried and what has brought relief, but I am not claiming that I am all of the way out of the darkness.

What I can say is that there is more joy now in my life than there ever was while I was living with a narcissist. The act of removing myself from the environment and then separating myself as completely as possible from the drama made room for all kinds of joy and satisfaction to flood in. On an average day I am content, happy and I feel like the world is full of opportunity and promise. That is a good thing.

I have been helped along the way by meditating and journaling. I hesitate to write that because that is where most people stop as though doing those two things results in immediate healing of all symptoms and a reversion to the innocence you once had. This was not my experience.

What these two practices did, in summary, was made me aware of my thoughts and feelings. As these two elements surface, it gave me an opportunity to look at them, see if they were serving me and decide whether or not I wanted to hold onto them. A few examples will help illustrate what I am trying to say.

One thought I had was, “I should’ve acted differently.” (substitute in anything here: faster, more forcefully, more honestly, more decisively, more intuitively, more in defense of myself). Really? This thought does not hold up to examination for two reasons. First, I was doing my best with the information that I had at the time. Second, thoughts like this keep you caught in a pattern of wishing things were different. The past will never be different. Find a way to accept that you acted the way you did and just embrace it. Forgive yourself if you need to. The point is, when you are stuck thinking that things should have been different, you are stuck. Try: “It happened. I am no longer there.”

This sounds like word games, but it stops the inevitable next thoughts that begin to rewrite how things should be now if you had acted differently then. “I wasted so much time.” “If I had acted differently they would have loved me back.” “I should’ve seen my situation earlier and more clearly” blah, blah, blah…. you didn’t. I didn’t. Lets move on.

Another thing I became aware of was all of the emotions that I was still harboring: resentment, hate, love, anger, jealousy, regret, and so on, and so on. These emotions need to be honoured, not analyzed. You feel whatever you feel. Regardless of how bad these things are, they are only emotions. Let yourself experience them as much as you can and they lose their power over you. Allowing myself to feel all of the emotions that surface has allowed me to release decades of old pain. I have remembered how scared I was as a five year old getting my tonsils out in the hospital; how devastated I was when my dog died when I was a teenager and other equally traumatic things that occurred.

The process goes like this. You are present in the moment and you notice the slightest flicker of an emotion. Focus all of your attention on that flicker. If you are like me, you have learned to immediately push these slight emotional whispers aside and pretend they are not there. Try to break this habit. Notice the flicker. Sit with the thought that brought it on for a moment and let the emotion expand. When you fully experience the connection to the memory that holds the pain, you are likely to have an emotional response: laughter, tears, rage… Once you have allowed the emotion to be expressed it is no longer as painful.

I can now remember the anguish of my dog dying without the extremely painful hurt it caused. I had been holding down this pain for over thirty years. Think of how much energy and focus that took!

If you are like me, you may be harboring emotions that should have been expressed a long time ago and not all of them are related to the narcissist that you had in your life. Releasing these feelings is like opening a gateway that lets emotions flow out and creativity, joy and connection flow into your world.

This is an ongoing exercise that is allowing me to go deeper and deeper into who I am at my core. The true me. The complete me. Which brings me to another truth. In order to survive where I was living, I learned to hide parts of myself. The parts that were taunted, belittled, ridiculed or unwelcome. This is a survival technique that anyone that has lived with a narcissist learns. The first time you put your heart and soul into choosing and arranging fresh flowers in a vase and you are told that they are in the way, a waste of money and a waste of time, is the last time you allow yourself to indulge. Pick your own example. I know there is one.

I have been paying attention to things that I enjoy. Little things like small flowers, good music, colour, art and writing. These are things that I have always enjoyed, but the toxic atmosphere of living with a narcissist blocks your connection to these things. I became so focused on just making it through my days, behaving in ways that wouldn’t rock the boat or provide fodder for an attack and trying to figure out what was going on, I lost all connection to myself and my desires. I lost a sense of who I was.

I have been gradually reclaiming these things but it takes paying attention to today. If your mind is preoccupied with regret, unexpressed emotions, thought patterns that keep you trapped in a past that was confusing and painful, you will not get to the present. It is only in the present that you start to enjoy yourself, to notice the joy in your life and reconnect with the parts of yourself that got shoved aside when you were in survival mode.

The Narcissist Survival Guide is now available

Back To Work — Chapter 4

IMG_3467Now the pressure was on. I had no income, but I had a job. I could go back to the job whenever I “wanted,” so Bob was constantly explaining how much money we were wasting with me not back at work. He saw no value in me staying home with the girls. He knew that we could pay someone a fraction of what I made in order for me to go back to work.

I was not going back while I was still wholly breastfeeding. I completely ignored the baby books on this one. There is a lot of pressure to start feeding cereals and formula to babies. It comes at you from all directions. One of the ways that mothers are persuaded to feed cereal is with the promise of the baby sleeping through the night. Formula is marketed as a way that dad can help out. Even he can sit and hold a bottle to a baby’s mouth!! If someone was going to actually help, wouldn’t it be nicer to have them do some of the more unpleasant jobs like changing diapers or doing laundry?

I decided that the information from our society had been so wrong about birth that it was probably wrong about how to feed a baby as well. When I look around now and see how many children and adults are afflicted with food allergies, I have to wonder how much of this is created by the way we are taught to take care of our babies. So I decided that we were probably designed perfectly. I would breast feed completely, until the baby was able to pick up food and put it into her mouth herself.

This worked quite well for me. Not only did I never sit and spoon goop into a child’s mouth, but I was putting her in complete control of what she ate, what went into her mouth and when it went in. I had been given a baby grinder from some friends so I would mush up whatever we were eating into particles that were not smooth but were too small to choke the baby.

These are the sort of details that you cannot control if you go back to work. I can feel the anger as I write this because this was very important to me and I had to fight with Bob about it. None of my children have any chronic diseases or allergies at all. This may have just been luck, but I did my best to ensure that they received the best care that was available.

By nine months, he had me worn down. They placed me in a slaughter plant that was in another city 60 miles or 100 kilometers from where I lived, driving into a large city. Every time it snowed, the highway would slow to a crawl or a complete stop. It was relentless. We had more single snow falls that winter than I ever remember. One day it took me over three hours to get into work.

I was beside myself. I almost ditched the car on the way to work one morning because I had to leave before the plows were on the highway. I was miserable. My entire life seemed to be fighting traffic to get to a job in a slaughter plant. I started to apply to other jobs within the government that were closer to where I lived.

I got screened into a job that was in a town 18 miles (30 km) from where I lived. I had an interview set up. It was a job interview that required a lot of studying. It was a program that I did not know and the way that the interview was conducted was more like an oral exam. I sat on my breaks at work and studied for this exam. The person organizing the interviews explained that I would receive a document before the exam and I was to read it and to be able to comment on it for the interview.

It was arranged that the document would be faxed to the house. We did not have a fax machine, but Bob’s computer could receive faxes electronically and then they could be printed out or read on the computer screen. The fax never came.

I went into the interview knowing that if they had not sent the fax, it was their oversight and that once I explained that then something would be worked out. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the fourth time that Bob had actively interfered with my career. He had “lost” the fax and was amazed that he had actually received it. He apologized. Everyone can make a mistake right? As I said, individually these all seemed like unfortunate accidents. It was not until hindsight that I realized that they were part of a larger pattern of sabotage.

The universe was still protecting me though. I made a decision one morning while fighting traffic that I would rather be unemployed. I would face Bob and just tell him that there was more to life than driving all day to a job that I didn’t like. I knew that I would be the target of his anger and his need to control me. I knew that it would make things tense at home. I knew that he would be verbally abusive and would let me know how useless I was, but it was my life and I wasn’t going to spend it this way.

I had three children under six at home and I intended to be there. I made the decision to quit. Before I had the opportunity to discuss this with Bob, something strange happened. The slaughter plant that I was hired to work in decided to close permanently. This interesting fact meant that I was “surplussed”. Surplussed is one of my favourite words.

As a government employee there are all kinds of regulations about job loss. If there is a job available, it has to go to someone that is already employed. So, by being surplussed, it meant that if any job became available it was mine. It also meant that I was eligible for a cash-out. How convenient. They would pay me the equivalent of sixty percent of a single year’s income to just walk away from my job. Done.

Keep Reading:  My Sister Vicki

Read the entire book.
Read the entire book.
The Narcissist Survival Guide now available

Big Boys Don’t Cry

IMG_3598Whether it is expediency in parenting or preparing us for the reality of our world, we all learn before we are too old that it is not OK to express all emotions in public, if at all. The phrase, “If you cry I’ll give you something to cry about,” was commonly used when I was a little girl. It was understood that boys were not allowed to cry at all, because, “Big boys don’t cry.”

Anger and rage are treated the same way. A woman that gets angry is summarily dismissed as a bitch and a man that explodes is often seen as violent and out of control. The immediate death of a politician is any show of uncontrolled emotion, except of course, passion.

There is an excepted amount of emotion that can be shown in public. Excitement, laughter and contentment are all commonly seen. But our society is very uncomfortable with someone crying in the grocery store for instance, or a couple having an actual argument in public. If you showed true anger in a store, you would be gently escorted out. Don’t even try it on a plane!

Unfortunately for many of us, it is difficult to recreate the feeling and express the emotion later. It might have been terribly frustrating at the time and you may have been furious, but it was not OK to scream at the idiot, but now, it is over and it is not always possible to recreate the response.

A similar thing has been said about our stress level. Our bodies were designed to respond to a threat. There is a whole series of events that occur when the threat is perceived and then we relax. Unfortunately, the stresses in our society are often things like sitting in traffic, waiting in line ups, forcing ourselves to spend our days doing jobs in unnatural situations, like sitting in front of a computer for most of the day or serving customers that come in all shapes and sizes. These stresses don’t have the sudden hit of a lion jumping out at you or the immediacy of slipping on the edge of a cliff.

The result of all of this is that we go through our days feeling things that we cannot act on. We feel emotions that we cannot express and we feel stress that does not have a definite beginning or end. When the traffic finally moves, we do not have the same relief as having the tiger walk away or getting purchase on a cliff. Instead, we often enter a building that has poor air quality and a chair for us to sit in.

So many of us have learned to ignore the emotions in the first place. We are no longer aware of the stress hormones in our blood and we no longer even recognize that something made us angry or sad.

The funny thing with emotions is that if we don’t express them, they park themselves in our bodies and stay there. In order for an emotion to move through us we have to feel it completely. We have to let the energy build and escape, as it would have naturally if we had not been taught to repress it.

When these emotions get trapped in our bodies they continually try to break out. Many people have experienced a disproportionate emotional response to something minor. You forget something and really let yourself have it on the way to work. Or, you drop something and become furious. This does not mean that you are going insane or losing your mind, it is just these pent up emotions are trying to be expressed and when they see a little crack in your veneer, they try to get out.

People that expertly contain all of their emotions often end up with sicknesses. Trapping pain in your body causes your body stress and you become ill. Many a cancer survivor has realized, only after becoming sick, that they were terribly unhappy in their lives and did not allow themselves to express, or acknowledge their own pain.

So what to do, what to do? You need to express the emotions that are in you. This does not mean that when the cashier gives you the wrong change you yell at them in public, or that when someone cuts you off in traffic you get out and confront them on the street. We are still responsible for our behaviours regardless of how we are feeling.

What I am suggesting is that you take the time to feel the emotions that you do not allow yourself to feel while you are in public. If you need to cry, wrap a blanket around yourself and put on some sad music and cry. If you need to rage, get a pillow, some time alone and yell and scream into it. If you are glad or proud honour it through creating art or music or indulging in movement that works to fully allow yourself to express the emotion and celebrate it.

It is probably worthwhile to point out that worry is not an actual emotion. Worry is a form of thinking. It might be attached to an emotion, but it is not a true emotion. I am not recommending that you take time out to worry. If you are worrying, you need to identify the thoughts that are causing the worry and write them down. When you see them on paper it is easier to recognize them for the thoughts that they are.

Worry is either about changing something in the past and wishing that it did not happen or being concerned about something that has not happened yet. You can spend all of your life arguing with your past and it will never change. Byron Katie likes to make the point that you will lose, but only all of the time.

Worrying about the future is just as futile. Worrying does not stop bad things from happening. It does nothing to prepare you for the bad things that might happen. If you need to think about what you can do if a certain eventuality occurs, think about it, make a plan and then stop worrying.

So here is your assignment. Find some time when you can misbehave. Get the appropriate supplies and indulge in actually feeling some of the emotions that you have not allowed yourself to express. This can be painful. This can make you feel “out of control” but that is the point. The pain that you will feel while expressing your emotions is a fraction of the amount of pain that you cause by trying to suppress the emotions, but it does occur all at once. The eventual result is often a feeling of lightness. You may find that you feel happier than you have in a very long time and that is an emotion that you can express, even in public.

 

Back in 1994, psychologist Thomas Moore wrote that your living space is a three-dimensional self-portrait. Its less-than-pristine places mirror tangles in your mind and energy, and you can’t clean up one without cleaning up the other.

 

Some of the bits that were edited out of Martha Beck’s column for Oprah magazine.

The Narcissistic Pattern

IMG_5025Being attractive meant that Jesse got a lot of attention. She was regularly asked out and was often disappointed to find that her suitors were disappointing. (and when I write “she”, I mean “he” as well. The sexes in this scenario are arbitrary. This can be written exactly the same with any genders). Her looks drew them in but then, once she was in the relationship, things felt flat, unrewarding and she questioned whether or not there were any men that actually wanted more than to be seen with her.

Jamie was different. He asked all about her, pursued her relentlessly and made her feel secure and loved. Having a history of short, unrewarding relationships, Jesse was careful, but Jamie understood. He had been hurt before. He confided in Jesse that he did not know why he picked such troubled women but they had all turned out to be “not quite right”. He said that his last girlfriend was almost certifiable.

He was willing to take it slow. He told Jesse how he dreamed of breaking out of his rut, starting a family, perhaps moving to a new town. These notions appealed to Jesse and his interest in her was unquestionable. Calls, gifts, dinners and surprises were all part of this perfect package. Jamie got along well with her friends and always had something exciting to talk about, people he had met, things he was going to do.

Jesse fell hard for Jamie. The whirlwind romance continued for weeks and Jamie got a new job in another town and asked her to go with him. Jesse had already said that moving to a new town was appealing to her and when she hesitated, Jamie pointed this out. He had only looked in other towns because she said she would like it. She knew it was too soon, but she had never been more sure of anything and quickly said yes. He was her soul mate. This man wanted all of the same things, doted on her and was very romantic. Problem was, it was all a lie.

The stress of the move, living with someone new and living in a new town all caused strife. Jesse knew they were arguing a lot, but isn’t that normal under so much stress? Jamie’s new job gave him more reason to be tense. His direct supervisor turned out to be a jerk and he was having trouble getting along in his new working environment. Jesse took a low paying job, the only job that she could get quickly, and thank-goodness, because Jamie quit right away. How could he be expected to work in such an unreasonable situation?

Jesse now found herself living in a new town, no friends or family around, working to keep the two of them afloat and Jamie was no longer kind. He criticized her for being selfish, not realizing how difficult it was for him to have to rely on her income. He wanted her to feel sorry for him and take care of him and if she encouraged him to get work, there was always an excuse why that couldn’t happen. He would blow up at her and accuse her of being a bitch, trying to control him, acting like his mother.

Jesse wondered what she had done wrong. Where was the romantic Jamie that was so concerned about how she felt? Where were the flowers? Why didn’t he dote on her like he did before? Why couldn’t he even do laundry? She was the one that worked all day. She tried harder. She wouldn’t complain or make demands. She knew the entire situation had been hard on Jamie. He would come out of it if she was just patient enough.

Each time Jesse worked up the nerve to leave, Jamie would become the thoughtful Jamie again. He would apologize, make promises and remember to do something sweet. Jesse knew the nice guy was still in there and she couldn’t make sense of the ups and downs. Things were either great or terrible. There did not seem to be a middle ground that lasted very long.

Her friends were all in a different town and when she said that she was going home for the weekend to visit, Jamie became incensed. Obviously she didn’t care about him or how he was feeling. He accused her of being selfish and thoughtless. The more she stood up for herself, the more demeaning Jamie got. He was now questioning whether or not he had chosen another wacko. Jamie accused Jesse of being insane. Jesse did her best to avoid fights, do what she could to placate Jamie and his abuse got worse.

Jamie started to go out late most nights. Since Jesse had to work early in the morning, she asked him to try to be quiet when he came home, so as not to wake her. Jamie started to bang the door a few times when he came in and blare the television set. He would prove to her that she couldn’t control him.

If some of the elements in this story ring true, you may have chosen abusive partners before. Here is what you need to pay attention to:

Jamie’s Red Flags

1. His last relationship, or a pattern of relationships, with people that are considered “crazy” or “insane’.

A history of very bad relationships is not a coincidence.

2. Intense romantic overtures early in the relationship. Rule of thumb is that if it would make you feel uncomfortable to match the gifts, surprises and compliments one for one, they are probably excessive.

Over “giving” and pursuing early in a relationship is not normal.

3. Early plans to make major changes in the way things are like moving away, starting a new career, spending a year travelling (with no clear means to pay for it).

Making major life changes early in a relationship is dangerous.

Things to Understand

1. Fights are Normal — Abuse is Not

All relationships have conflict, but the type of fight and the intensity can be pathologic. Someone that actually loves you does not put you down, physically hurt you or call you names. When Jamie started accusing Jesse of being insane, it was not an “argument” it was an attempt to control her. It was abusive.

2. Your needs are important

A partner should respect your needs. If you want to visit friends, this is not an attack on your partner. If you want a hobby, time to yourself, to pursue other interests, a person that loves you will support you.

3. Sharing the Work can be Expected

It is reasonable to get help both financially and physically from your partner to do the work of living. Asking for help and expecting to receive it are legitimate parts of a mutually respectful relationship.

History Repeats Itself

Too often, a pattern of finding a pathological partner stems from your experience of other relationships. If all you have ever witnessed is:

love is conditional on good behaviour,

people are mean to get their way and/or

really intense good times are followed by really bad times

then it can be hard to know that this is not normal. This is hurtful and abusive and only you can choose to not be in the relationship.

 

Narcissist_frontcover

Releasing Emotions

http://www.exposix.com/answers/Chihuahua-Pictures.html
http://www.exposix.com/answers/Chihuahua-Pictures.html

My dog, Bug, was still alive, but she was not responsive. I had just found her on the floor of my mother’s car, a big black ford with bench seats. I ran to get my mother who was up at the club house watching the horse races with some of the trainers that she knew. She had decided to bring the dogs with her because she wasn’t sure if she would be returning home that night. The dogs would’ve been better off left on their own at our house.

We rushed Bug into a veterinary clinic. I watched the doctor expertly draw off some medication into a syringe. He proceeded to inject her with it and there was no discernable reaction from my dog. In hindsight, I’m sure he injected her with saline, realizing that she could not be helped but respecting our need to see the doctor take some kind of action.

I knew she was about to die and I was helpless to do anything about it. The pain of seeing her dying and the loss of having her leave, were too much for me to process at the time. This was compounded by the fact that it was ridiculous that my mother would leave two dogs in a black car in a large un-shaded parking lot on such a hot day, even if they had water and the window was open a bit. It was all pouring over me right now. I let it rip threw me and I started to sob. The pain in my body was intense, but there was relief from feeling the pain.

I was able to let it happen this time, instead of when Bug died, which would’ve been the best time to have cried over her death, because this time I was a doing an exercise aimed at releasing pent up strong emotions.

You see, strong emotions, once created, either need to be expressed through feeling them at the time, or the energy from the emotion just gets stored in your body. Since you have already decided that it would be too unpleasant to feel the emotion, each time you remember it, it tries to get out and a considerable amount of thought and effort must go into blocking the memory and the associated emotional response to it.

This effort to block the emotions can be expressed in multiple ways. It may take the form of an addiction to any type of medication, food, shopping, gossiping or simply being angry a lot of the time. You may be avoiding as much contact with other people as you can or working obsessively. Another unfortunate consequence of blocking emotions is that you will find that you do not feel any emotions. It is not possible to block only the unpleasant ones and you may simply find that you do not feel anything at all, good or bad.

If this blocking system fails you, say when you are tired, stressed or dealing with other issues, you will get an inappropriate emotional response when it is least expected. This will happen randomly, like snipping at a sales clerk, crying for no reason or getting angry with a co-worker. In order to release these feelings you need to create a safe time and place to just sit and allow yourself to feel.

This time and place can be deliberately created. The reason that you might like to do this is to let go of past trauma. Set aside some time when you have some privacy and actively allow yourself to conjure up old memories or just raw emotions. It might be helpful if you listened to music, read poetry or watched a particularly appropriate movie to help move the emotions along.

It is beneficial if you feel completely uninhibited. Loud sobbing or yelling may occur if you allow yourself to experience deep pain, hurt or anger. Also, it can be helpful to try doing this exercise in the shower or with a comforting blanket or quilt wrapped around you. Consider the fact that you want to maximize both your privacy and your comfort and try to find a suitable time and place to express the emotions you have been storing.

Be careful to keep your focus on the bodily sensations and your emotional response. It will not serve you if you focus on what happened, why it happened or why it should not have happened. These explanations detract from the experience of the emotion. What you want to do is feel the emotions, not try to justify them, explain them or even understand them. Focus on what you feel not how you would tell someone about it.

While doing this exercise, it was shocking to me to have the memory of Bug’s death surface. It had happened over thirty years ago and I had no idea that I had never processed the pain and anger. I guess it is understandable, given the fact that I deeply loved this dog. She travelled with me everywhere and I made a purse that was just the right size for her to fit into. She could tell me within seconds which friends were keepers and which should not be trusted. Despite the fact that she had a nasty habit of leaving my underwear at the front door, I adored this dog. Her death was not easy for me to handle. It took over thirty years to feel the pain.

After finally grieving this event, I can now recall her death. I still feel loss and sadness, but the deep pain and anger are gone. This is how you know that you have released the emotion. It is simply not still painful to remember anymore.

Narcissists and the Legal System

http://globerunner.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/gavel-e1376594306977.png
http://globerunner.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/gavel-e1376594306977.png

I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, yeah right! Anyone who is unfortunate enough to have dealt with a narcissist knows this is not going to happen.

Unfortunately, this is the tenant upon which our legal system is based. There does not seem to be an understanding that not everyone is honest and this can be a disaster if you happen to need to be in court with a narcissist.

If you are dealing with a legal issue with a narcissist, first of all, my condolences. But the truth is you are in a precarious situation. The natural adversarial nature of law is like Disney World to most narcissists. They thrive on conflict and they are willing to lie to win on any issue.

In my experience, even producing documents, produced by a narcissist, that contradict each other was not enough “evidence” that at least one of the documents must be in error. There seems to be a lot of leeway given for “errors”, “misinterpretations” and “misrepresentation” as though to err is human but to lie is simply not a consideration.

So what to do…

1. If at all possible, avoid taking legal action against a narcissist. You may be drawn in by them, but never initiate it yourself. This is a goldmine of conflict that feeds the average narcissist and they cannot get enough.

2. If children are involved, you should strongly consider getting them their own lawyer. This, on the face of it, will appear as though it will cost more money, but that is not the case. Once children become pawns in a legal battle with a narcissist, everyone loses. The thought and consideration most parents would show for the impact on their own children is not felt by a narcissist. The children need separate representation so issues surrounding them do not become a battle between you and the narcissist.

3. Keep as much “evidence” as you possibly can: take photos, record times and conversations. If you have witnesses, make sure you know how to contact them and how they are likely to respond if called.

4. Be careful how a simple thing you might do, like leave a note, can be misconstrued and used against you. A note like, “please move your car” can be played out to be unreasonable given the right made up back-story. Keep in mind you do not know how things can be twisted and used against you.

5. Note that you will be baited as often as possible to try to get you to “act out” when there are witnesses or to encourage you to do something like write a note or send an email that can be used against you.

6. Always fight for something that you do not want. This will allow the narcissist to “win” and for you to find resolution. You didn’t want it anyway, giving it to them as a concession just makes it end sooner — hopefully.

7. Finally, and this is the MOST important point. Never try to win in public. When two people are arguing, it is not possible to tell which one is unreasonable because they are both acting unreasonably. A fight in court for instance will undermine your credibility by making you look crazy.

Best of luck. Stay small, don’t fight back–you can’t win against someone that will lie and cheat to win–and hopefully it will all be over soon.

My book,
My book, “The Narcissist Survival Guide” is now available.

Narcissism Navigated

Narcissism–Scenes From the Front Line — The Funeral

IMG_3238Apparently it happened during the “Commish”. I had never watched the “Commish”, but the name of the program will be forever etched on my mind, because my sister repeated the story time after time, as though by the retelling she may either have been able to change the outcome or at least make sense of what had happened.

She had been living with this fella for a time, the details are fuzzy now, but I would guess about a year and a half. He seemed a quiet kind of man that had been beat up by life and had resolved to just hide at home as much as possible. He was nice to my sister and she needed the company, so I was happy that he was living with her.

When she called me to tell me that he had died, suddenly, on their sofa, there was no emotion in her voice. She had managed to transport herself to that safe place where emotions can’t enter and she was shielded from the pain of watching her lover die before the medics arrived.

Now we were on the way to the funeral. I lived about an hour from my sister’s place and the main road between us was a divided highway. In this part of the country, the speed limit of 100 km (60 miles) per hour was more of a suggestion and the average speed was around 120 km/hour (70 miles/hr). Bob usually drove faster than this and would stay in the left lane (which is supposed to be for the faster traffic) during any of our highway travels.

Earlier that day, I had explained to him that I wanted to arrive a little early. That way, I could console my sister, have some time alone with her and make sure she was alright before the service. My hope was that I could then slip away immediately after the funeral instead of staying around when she would be busy speaking to everybody.

Bob knew this. He delayed our departure significantly. He always had excuses and reasons. I’m sure that he felt that the four hour delay in completing any task that he had to do would be unacceptable. Everyone knew how important he was…

Once we were on the highway, it got worse. He pulled into the right hand lane and did 100 km/hour, or less, the entire drive. I could feel my anger crawling up the back of my throat. I tried to encourage him to go faster and he made excuses. I was worried about my sister and how our lateness would impact her. I was frustrated and felt powerless.

Then, he decided to stop (which he never does) to get coffees and drinks. The girls were ecstatic because they never got to stop like this unless the trip was hours and hours long. So, I could not complain about this unexpected and certainly unprecedented stop on the highway.

We arrived late. The entire service had been delayed awaiting our arrival and my sister had decided to start when some of the guests had started to become impatient and let her know that they were going to have to leave.

Of course for me it meant that I arrived furious. I was so upset that it was difficult to calm myself down. This was one in a long string of events meant to make me look bad. Showing up at a funeral late and furious… He knew that it would be difficult to compose myself completely and yes, he had won again.

The Narcissist Survival Guide now available for

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Drive

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Fax

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Interview

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Call

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Cavity

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Pants

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Trailer

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — Biking

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Doctor

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — New Job