SAY HELLO!!!

When I started my blog a few weeks ago, I intended for it to be a type of therapeutic journal that may have a couple of followers who are going through similar situations, most likely people I know from Minnesota. I never thought it would be reaching people in Sweden, India, Japan, Australia, Greece…this is so cool!!!

If you are reading this, where are you from? How did you come across my blog? Say hello!

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It’s More Than Anyone Knows…

You open up Facebook and roll your eyes at the first post to pop up:

“What have I done to be treated like this? Are there any real men left in the world or are they all horrible?”

Ugh. There goes Becky again, complaining about her husband. Her incessant bitching about this man almost makes you feel sorry for him. If he’s so awful, why doesn’t she leave and shut up about it?

Sometimes, I am Becky. I have vague-booked some pretty personal issues and I’m sure at least a few people were rolling their eyes at me, or felt sorry for my ex that I was airing dirty laundry.

Here’s the thing: you never know the whole story behind a comment unless you ask. I know that in my posts related to issues in my marriage, I was often looking for confirmation – somebody to tell me I was right. When you are the victim of gaslighting it is hard to decipher if your feelings are valid or if your perceptions are real. Most times, all I needed was to hear somebody say “Yeah, I would feel that way, too” or “He was wrong to do that, husbands shouldn’t act that way” because I needed my feelings to be validated, not because I was looking for sympathy or trying to make my husband look bad.

You have no idea why “Becky” just said what she said. Maybe she told her husband she is thinking about leaving him and so he drove around with a gun in his truck for four days, sending her pictures of it with the question “Made your decision yet?” and that prompted her post (see, when it gets really bad we don’t write about those things). Maybe she is looking for somebody to tell her it’s okay to leave after her husband just sent a video to her with a loaded shotgun in his mouth but can’t bring herself to actually tell the whole story.

My point is, when you see somebody making comments about being treated badly, it usually took a lot for them to get to that point. There is more to it than you know. So before you judge, ask. And after you ask, help. That is often what we are crying out for – help, not attention or sympathy.

Always be kind, and never assume.

Narcissists and the Fake Relationship

My oldest son does not biologically belong to my ex (my other three children are his). We began dating when my son had just turned three – he is now officially old enough to help vote Trump out of the White House. So that was fifteen years they had to form some sort of bond or relationship. Thank God my son’s biological father has always been a good dad/husband to his wife and shown him what men are actually supposed to act like…but it terrifies me that my younger three will never have any clue of what that should look like.

My husband would engage with my oldest son just enough to make himself look good to those on the outside: “Hey, kid, tell Grandpa how much fun we had fishing!” and my son would reluctantly tell Grandpa – he knew it would come across as being something they did together all the time, even though in those fifteen years they might have gone fishing three or four times…

He would brag about how intelligent my son was, although he had never met his teachers, helped with projects, or looked at his report cards. When my younger son (his bio) had a picnic at his school on the very last day of kindergarten one of my daughters got sick, so I had to send my ex in my place. He actually had to ask me what our son’s teacher’s name was and where his classroom was. On the last day of school. It’s pathetic.

So basically, the narcissist only has use for the kids when they are making them look good. It is not a real relationship – it is a sick relationship at best. My oldest moved to the Twin Cities area two years ago (his dad/aunts/all kinds of family members live down there) – he has seen/talked to my ex twice in that time. Maybe three times. The point is, now that he has no use for him, he doesn’t even bother. He doesn’t care enough to see how he is doing.

Sadly, this is something we need to prepare ourselves and our children for when we finally put the narcissist on the curb – the devaluation of the entire family. By leaving him, you’re making him look bad to others, and that makes you the enemy now. So get ready for questions about why your ex no longer calls, why he hasn’t visited in three months, why he spends more time with his new girlfriend’s kids than he ever did with them…it’s all par for the course to the narcissist, and you will be left to explain how people, even parents, can have fake relationships. Even though you don’t understand it yourself.

Sympathy for the Devil

Stockholm, Sweden, August 23rd, 1973. Paroled convict Jan-Erik Olsson is hell-bent on finding a way to get his buddy released from prison. What does he do? He bursts into Kreditbanken – one of the largest banks in the city – and takes four hostages (one man, three women) to use in negotiating with the police. In his twisted mind, he thinks maybe his friend will be released in exchange for his hostages. This isn’t how it ended at all, to the surprise of everyone, including Olsson himself.

After six days of being held captive in a bank vault (with Olsson), the hostages began to irrationally sympathize with their captor. They felt sorry for him, pity for his plight. They developed a sort of psychological alliance with this man who was terrorizing them, to the extent that when the ordeal was all over with they refused to testify against him in court. They even went a step farther and helped to raise money for Olsson’s court defense.

What in the actual hell just happened here? you may be asking yourself in disgust.

This, friends, is what is known as ‘Stockholm Syndrome’.

Stockholm Syndrome extends to relationships between children and their sexual abusers, cult members and their leaders, prostitutes and their pimps, and so on. And in my personal experience, I can say with certainty that it can occur between us and our narcissistic emotional abusers.

When you step back and take a look – a really good look – at a narcissist, what do you see? A sick, sad person whose only joy is derived from the suppression and control of other humans? A person who is unable to view others as real people that they could form bonds with, instead opting to use them as puppets? Although we have basically just described Hitler here, there are some of us who still can’t help but feel sympathy for these messed-up souls. It pains us that these people are missing out on so many beautiful things in life – really loving, sharing, caring – they’re missing it all.

When that first twinge of sympathy hits, you need to stop and reel your feelings back in. This can be difficult, especially for empaths. We want to fix people – we would love nothing more than to throw on a bandaid and make the narcissist a whole-hearted person who can experience these great things like the rest of us. Not only is this not our job, but it is very likely to be an impossible endeavor. Because the narcissist is fine with how they are – they don’t see a need or have a desire to be fixed or saved. They’re already perfect.

When I left my ex he used his own weaknesses to make me feel guilty for leaving him. “If you leave me, I will have nobody” is a great line narcissists love to use, and we fall for it way too often. Even if it’s true, it is still not your issue to fix – the narcissist is fully capable of making friends, meeting a new girlfriend, and moving on without you or your help. Don’t let him guilt you into staying.

No matter how sympathetic you feel towards your “captor”, you need to realize that you are responsible for your own happiness and well-being just as they are responsible for theirs.

Suck up all the pity and sympathy you feel for this emotionally abusive jerk and place it where it is deserved – like, go walk a shelter dog or something. Just don’t give all those valuable feelings to the narcissist or they will be wasted.

Empathy? What the *** is empathy??

Narcissistic behavior can be scary to observe. The hallmark trail of being a true, low-down, life-sucking narcissist a complete absence of empathy – these people are NOT CAPABLE of feeling/seeing things from anyone’s point of view but their own.

They are the people who can’t simply walk past a homeless man on the street asking for money, instead opting to lob an insult their direction (“Get a job, you lazy bum!”) without even a twinge of guilt or sympathy. They are the people who have to point out the morbidly obese person at the restaurant with a snarky comment about how they should be at the gym, not Applebee’s. They are the people who are always quick to judge and mock without knowing anything about the person’s life or history. When I see a homeless person, I always give what I can, even if it’s $1. In my mind, I’m thinking this person could be a veteran or have mental health issues and my dollar could prevent them from being hungry. When I see an extremely overweight person, the first thing I feel is sorry because they probably have some sort of health issue and they’re struggling. I like to think most of us think that way…but not narcs.

Why do they act this way? Why are narcissists so freaking mean???

The answer to this might surprise you: it is because deep down narcissists are very insecure individuals with crazy-low self-esteem. Yep, you did read that right. Despite the show they put on, at their core they are extremely weak, self-conscious beings. The reason they treat others so horribly is to make themselves feel better, to boost their own self-esteem by crushing somebody else’s.

A “normal” person (is there such a thing?) derives pleasure in creating happiness for others – it makes them feel good to see others feel good. Adversely, seeing others feel sad will in turn make them feel sad, and so on. This is impossible for a narcissist. He doesn’t see other people as human beings with feelings – he sees them as objects which he can use to make himself feel good. By pointing out the flaws and downfalls of everyone else, he is making himself feel superior. And he loves feeling superior.

When I was with my ex I wasn’t “allowed” to give money to homeless people or charities, and if I did you could bet that I was going to get an earful about how hard he worked for the $3 I just gave that “POS drunk, who is just going to go buy booze with it” (ah, the irony). I now make it a point to go hand them a $5.

Pay close attention to the way people treat others. If you see a blatant disregard for the feelings of those less fortunate or not “up to their standards” it is time to rethink your relationship with this person. Eventually, when the narcissist is nice and comfy and confident that he “has” you, his verbal attacks and insults will become solely focused on you if you don’t get out in time. And nobody deserves that.

Narcissists are made, not born

As a mother who shares her children with a narcissist, I have done hours of frantic, white-knuckled research, scouring psychology journals and personal testimonies, looking for assurance that my kids are not doomed to become mini-narcs. I’m happy to report, they are not. And to all you worried mamas out there reading this, neither are yours.

Babies do not hop out of the womb with superiority complexes. (Don’t be confused by their whole “feed me/bathe me/change me/love me” M.O.) They aren’t born feeling that they are better than the baby drooling next to them in the hospital nursery. Until their little brains are programmed to think otherwise, they see their peers as equals.

There are a number of parenting styles that turn these innocent little bundles of sweetness into narcissistic teenagers/adults, but I will focus on what I have personally witnessed – parents who act as if their child(ren) can do no wrong.

My ex husband (we will call him Dirk, because I hate that name) never talked much about his childhood throughout our 15 years together. He would tell me little snippets here and there, but I never really got a sense of what home life was actually like for him growing up. I knew he and his two brothers got into quite a bit of trouble, and those were the stories he loved to tell the most. Looking back now, I realize that that none of these tales ever ended with consequences. Never. Had I put two and two together, this would have been a huge red flag. Those boys were above the law – the rules didn’t apply to them, in their minds. For example, take the time 14-year-old Dirk was brought home by the cops after getting a smoking ticket – his mom was angry with the officers for “overreacting”. Red flag. Like when his teenaged brother was allowed to walk around smoking joints in the house without so much as a peep of protest from their parents. Another red flag. Like the time their mom told me how as kids the boys would blow up frogs with fireworks and she laughed it off as “boys being boys”. RED. FREAKING. FLAG. This type of passive-aggressive (aka “lazy”) parenting is not parenting at all – this is letting the lunatics run the damn asylum. And this is a breeding-grounds for narcissistic behavior.

Dirk and his brothers are now in their mid-to-late 30’s and can still get away with murder. They can break up families, cheat on spouses, enjoy being alcoholics and deadbeat dads, all while their parents sing their praises and support them every step of the way. To be honest, it’s sick. The lack of expectations feeds the narcissistic ego.

So my advice to you is to take a good look at your partner’s history and how he was raised. Were his parents the type who only loved him when he was successful? Were they hypercritical of everything he did? Or were they like my ex-in-laws and instill the belief that they were not only perfect, but also untouchable?

You can almost bet that they, as parents themselves now, will emulate the way they were brought up and embrace a very similar parenting style to what they are familiar with. The tricky part is trying to counter-balance what they are putting out to your children, being the one who keeps them in check without becoming the “bad” parent. The good news is that “tricky” is not the same as “impossible” and with mindfulness and vigilance you can steer your child down the right path. Love them and praise them while teaching them right from wrong. Set boundaries and rules and enforce them. Emphasize the importance of empathy (which narcissists desperately lack) and kindness. Hard-wire their brains for love and positivity through your own example.

They are not doomed. Not by any means.

Because they have you, worried mama.