I was raised in a narcissistic family, where the children had to cater to the needs of the parents. It wasn’t until I was in my forties that it dawned on me that children are not supposed to make allowances for the parent’s lapses, but instead, the parents are supposed to help the children with theirs. We all grew up eventually, parents included, so that helped, and by doing for my parents what they hadn’t done for me once I was out of diapers — help them at their neediest — I paid off whatever karmic debt had been accrued.
Then, I had to deal with a brother who had some sort of personality disorder, enhanced by the grandiosity of a narcissist. After two years of his abuse, I literally drove him away — took him back to Colorado and dumped him on the street. I didn’t want to do that — I’d planned on getting him a motel room for a week or two, but the laws in that particular city made that impossible. Leaving him there was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I cried the entire 1000 miles back to where I was caring for my dad in his last days. I have not seen my brother since. I did not give him my phone number, and the address he had for me now belongs to someone else. It makes me very sad to think I had to resort to such measures, but it truly was a matter of survival.
You’d think by now I’d have learned to deal with the narcissists that get their claws into me, but since another narcissist has shown up in my life, one I have been calling “Deb” after a character in Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare I am once again researching narcissism. A lovely and very wise woman told me that you cannot control a narcissist, whether by making nice, ignoring, praying, meditating. If they want whatever it is they perceive you have, they will attempt to destroy your reputation, and if you confront them, they will play the victim card. Her advice was to ease my way out of the situation. Although I know the only way to deal with such narcissists is to walk away from them forever, as I did with my brother, in this case, I’d also be walking away from something that once was a lifesaver — dance classes. And I’d be walking away from a friend who is almost like a sister to me.
One thing I found in my research is that narcissists, for all their bragging about how strong they are, are inherently weak. They project themselves onto another person, seeing their bad qualities in that person (because they can’t face them in themselves), and subsuming that person’s good qualities into themselves. And, despite what it might seem with all this recent blogging about the Debs, I am strong. No wonder she has fixated on me!
Just knowing all this will help, but I also came across two very good ways to deal with the Debs. One is to envision the energy that connects the two of us, and using bright gold scissors, cut that cord of energy. Visualize her energy snapping back into her and my half of the energy cord shining brilliantly as it rises to the sun. I love this idea because it is energy that really seems to be the issue here — both her negative energy that disturbs the energy created when dancing, and the energy I have been giving to the situation.
Another way to handle the Debs if you can’t escape is to be like a rock. Apparently, narcissists play with people the way children play with Barbie and Ken dolls (or whatever the current doll fad is), but they tend not to be interested in dull, gray rocks.
I’d been mostly doing okay by retreating into rock form and not goading her into the drama that she feeds on, but from what I have been reading, even something as minor as a flinch or a turning away (which I have to admit, I have done) can escalate the drama, especially if another person is there to help it along by calling attention to the reaction.
So, bright scissors and dull rocks.
Sounds like a plan.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Unfinished, Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.
March 25, 2018 at 5:21 pm
After reading this it dawned upon me that my mother was Narcissistic,
I’m not going into it, but the last time I saw her, she was in hospital,, bowel cancer and not expected to live; just lying there in a foetal position asleep, I stood looking down at her and she, without opening her eyes said ” Brian! I knew you’d come”, the last words I ever heard her say.
I left her room, and my wife and our children, and went outside, found a quite space, and wept.
Not for her but for myself.
March 25, 2018 at 5:49 pm
Narcissists are narcissists even at the point of death. And yes, they always win. We often grieve the narcissists more than the loving parents because we grieve for what we never got and now never would. Life, ain’t it grand?
March 25, 2018 at 10:41 pm
I must admit I never grieved, and I don’t feel bad about it. Or ashamed!
It sure is, I savor every minute,even if I don’t have that many minutes left.
March 26, 2018 at 4:03 am
Here’s some arm chair psychology (for what it’s worth). I think it is significant that you connect your brother and your parents to Deb by seeing likenesses in their behaviors. Your unable to solve the deal with Deb because it isn’t with her it is with them. I have no doubt Deb is all you say she is but she won’t work as a stand in for “fixing” the destruction the others did. They are fueling the Deb fire. You have gone through so much growing up and then losing your husband…ENOUGH IS A ENOUGH!! Quit dance (like you were going to do) and find another studio. The friend you have in the group will still be a friend if indeed she is a friend, Remember you owe NO Person there or anywhere more explanation than you want to give (including me)..
March 26, 2018 at 10:52 am
You could be right, but I don’t sense any shadows of the past around her. She is plenty annoying on her own. The only significance I can see is that past dealings with narcissists have helped me recognize another one. The reason there are likenesses is that to a certain extent, all narcissists behave alike. You are right that I should quit dance, but it would be for good — there are no other dance studios around here, and very few dance studios anywhere that cater to older adults, and certainly not studios that teach classical dance, such as ballet. I have lost too much over the past several years, that I am not ready for yet another loss. Nor am I ready to face the bleakness of my life without at least this one thing, though eventually, I will have to. (I know you said I didn’t owe you an explanation, but you were kind enough to comment, and your comment made me think, so I wanted you to know what the result of that thinking was.)
March 26, 2018 at 6:10 am
Thank you for sharing. This post inspires hope.
March 26, 2018 at 10:23 am
The most eye-opening gift was identifying narcissism. Sometimes you have to walk away even if it means losing other people in the process for they will use them to get to you.
March 26, 2018 at 11:00 am
I’ve been reading that people who have to deal with narcissists are often confused because what they think is happening isn’t and what is happening isn’t what they think. I’m “lucky” in that I don’t have any confusion about this current situation, But I am looking for tools — if there is such a thing — to deal with narcissists, because I seem to be a narcissist magnet, and I can’t run from everyone.
March 27, 2018 at 11:55 pm
I separated myself from my mother some time ago because of her narcissism. I still get grief over it from those who can’t possibly understand how toxic a person can be, but it had to be done. She sucks the life out of me. Ironically she has dementia and I had a laugh with my sister over the fact that she can’t remember what a horrible mother she was. We did giggle quite a lot over that one.
There is such a thing as the human magnate syndrome. Reading about Deb has led me to believe that I have a Deb too, but I have been avoiding thinking she’s a Deb and instead convinced the issue was with me and my tendency to be anti-social. I think the issue might be with her.
March 28, 2018 at 11:59 am
I worry that the issue with my Deb is me, that I am the narcissist, but I have to believe that problem isn’t me because otherwise everything I think I know about myself would be a lie. This thinking it’s your fault might prove that it isn’t, because the Debs of this world never believe anything they do is their fault. Or at least they want you to think that.