Lizard Brain Be Damned!

Last week when we were struggling, Pat sent me some timely reminders, which points to the fact that this blog is becoming a communal effort.  I hope others are benefiting as much as the three of us.

The first is actually from a link on my site.

…do not expect them (narcissists) to show the slightest interest in you or your life (or even in why you’re bothering with them at all), do not expect them to be able to do anything that you need or want, do not expect them to apologize or make amends or show any consideration for your feelings…

I don’t think I’ve written a single post that demonstrates Mark’s interest in the kids.  It’s pretty clear that he expects them to be a source for his narcissism, and so he’ll feign interest to secure that source.  But that interest isn’t genuine, and is subject to withdrawal should the kids fail to meet his standards or stop providing the consistent source that he needs.  At one point, when I was still trying to facilitate the kids’ relationship with Mark, he reminded me that, “He just doesn’t like to be around people that don’t like him.”  None of us is comfortable hanging where we feel we aren’t liked.  He just requires a greater deal of liking than the rest of us.  He requires that we like him above all other things.  And he won’t stick around unless he feels he’s liked more than anything else.

Incidentally, the kids haven’t heard from Mark since the fabulous skiing episode.  Apparently they didn’t like him enough after that adventure.  And as I write this, they are both putzing around the house singing, “Busy Being Fabulous“, by the Eagles.  I don’t make this stuff up.  I swear.

The other pearl Pat sent was this:

Children of narcissists keep trying, as if by bonding with new narcissists we could somehow cure our narcissistic parents by finding the key to their heart. Thus, we’ve been trained to keep loving people who can’t love us back, and we will often tolerate or actively work to maintain connections with narcissistic individuals whom others, lacking our special training, find alienating and repellent from first contact, setting ourselves up to be hurt yet again in the same old way.

Read that last one again, only more slowly this time.  Is that you?  It sure as hell is me.  And I’m going to try my best to make sure that it isn’t Will and Jenny.  I want them to learn that they deserve genuine love that isn’t based on their acceptance of substandard treatment.

Annie, this next part is the ‘epihpa-me‘ that I mentioned.

My annoyingly over-active lizard brain was imprinted by a disinterested father and a very capable mom who provided well, put out fires and kept everything together.  My mom didn’t get any hugs and ‘love yous’ from her folks.  Mom did a great job with handing out ‘love yous’, but she was really busy and didn’t have a lot of time to relate.  My LB (lizard brain) says, “Keep your head down, don’t require anything, don’t make a fuss and all will be well.”

In the beginning of a relationship, there’s all the attention, relating and connecting.  That feels like what I’ve been needing.  That feels right.  After a period of time, I get less attention – either due to having ended up in a relationship with a narcissist (Mark) or a guy who can’t deal with close, regular contact (John).  My evolved brain, such that it is, says, “What the hell?  How come you aren’t interested?  You were in the beginning?  I don’t like this.  I want to be connected to you.”  At this point, an emotionally healthy person would say, “It’s been nice.  This isn’t what I want.  Take care.”

My frickin’ LB slaps my evolved brain upside the head and says, “This is what you know.  This is what you grew up with.  This is what love is.  Try harder.  Require less.  Quit being needy.  You don’t need to feel connected to this person.”  Well, I’m figuring out that this isn’t love.  It is my knee jerk reaction to the same kind of treatment I’ve always gotten.  Then I kick things up a notch, attempt to do the relating for both partners, trip over myself trying to please, and end up feeling lonelier and unloved.

I don’t think (can’t stand to believe) that I set out to be involved with a narcissist.  I do think that my training or imprinting makes me stick it out longer than most.  It is a combination of unwavering hope and my training, that makes me believe that if I get it right, or stick it out long enough, things will come around.  Kind of like they’ve come around with my folks.  NOT.  Being a slow learner really sucks sometimes, but it sure makes for an interesting journey.


Dave Doolin has a “1 strike you’re out” rule that he goes by.  I kinda like that.  Until very recently I’ve had a hard time defining a strike.  I think I’m getting closer to a firm definition.  If I’m not feeling loved, connected to or interested in, I’m outta here.  But I’m not good at being a hard ass.  I’m probably more of a “7 strikes you’re out” girl.  Just not 673 strikes anymore.  And if I get really good at this, maybe I’ll have two kids that turn in to “1 strike you’re out” grown ups.

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  1. I bend my knee to you! You’re an amazing woman!!

    One other thought. I don’t think you set out to be involved with a narcissist, either. But I think your deeply nurturing instincts draw you to needy people. You only have to keep your evolved brain in gear to keep reminding you that you have needs too. And you deserve to have them met. (Kick that LB to the curb (O: )

    BTW, the second one I sent you was from the same site as the first. We all need to keep reading this stuff.

  2. I do need to re-read this stuff. And I’m sure I’ll need to keep re-reading.

    I seem to have this strong desire to nurture. I’m going to stick to kids and pets. They seem to be more accepting and appreciative of my nurturing.

  3. “…do not expect them (narcissists) to show the slightest interest in you or your life.” This is so true. For 10 years, yes, TEN YEARS, I have been taking anti-depressants. He never noticed. Never noticed a pill bottle (but, they were around), never noticed that I was taking a pill every morning, for TEN YEARS. Never noticed that I was a zombie, never noticed a thing. Has (or had) never asked anything about me. We live in the same flipping house. How could he miss this? Oh, ya right, no interest in me or my life… I have had the idea of, “Keep your head down, don’t require anything, don’t make a fuss and all will be well” attitude for too long. I grew up thinking it and married into it. I just hope I can escape it…

  4. The big thing is… Because we keep our heads down and don’t make a fuss they keep it up. Then, when we finally get up the gumption to do something about it, they say, “Well how come you didn’t say anything before?”

    I’m not saying it is our fault for getting in this situation. I am thinking it is my fault for letting it go on as long as it does. That leads back to the 673 strikes.

  5. When talking about brains, we need to remember that some things become addictions (and I’m not necessarily talking about smoking, drinking or drugs) because our brains have become addicted to certain chemicals that we ourselves create!

    For example: The thoughts and feelings you have, whatever they may be, create a pathway in your brain. The more repetition on a thought, the stronger the path becomes. This is also accompanied by the brain releasing hormones or other chemicals that are triggered by that thought. Over time, the cells of our body adapt to the chemistry (never minding that it may be destructive), and the cells alter their receptor sites to accommodate this chemistry. (It’s similar to a key fitting in a lock).

    This is why addictions, whatever the form, can be so difficult to overcome.

    To take it one step further: your association with a narcissist has created a chemistry in your body that your body is literally addicted to. It can take some time to detox. So be kind to yourselves!

  6. A couple of months ago the kid (16), his dad, and I all got into, one doosey of a battle and kid blurted out to his dad that I wanted a divorce and that I wanted to move. Husband looked like he had seen a ghost, WHAT? What’s this all about? He had NO clue. Have I hidden my thoughts, my dreams, me, have I kept my head down too long? He has never noticed that I was unhappy, sad, dejected, and wanted the HELL out of here. THEY DON’T CARE… It takes us, coming unglued, being radical, for them to catch a clue. Between you and me, I think this dummy is up to 968 strikes… :(

  7. Annie,

    I think it’s safe to say that you and I better not put a softball team together. We wouldn’t know a strike from a touchdown.

  8. … Just hope I don’t hit 1000….

  9. I think Donna’s on the right track with the brain stuff. I see it slightly differently, though. The brain chemicals, which include seratonin, are already a part of all of us. Seratonin is responsible for the feelings pleasure or satisfaction or comfort. As children, we learn certain behaviors that release the seratonin in our brains. Ah-h, that feels pretty okay. So we repeat that behavior the next time in the same circumstance. As Donna said, the more repetitions of a thought or behavior, the stronger that pathway becomes, and the stronger the behavioral habit becomes. Without knowing it, we’re actually responsible for that little LB.

    If we want the old, unproductive LB pathway to grow over with weeds and brush and become impassable, we have to stop traveling that path. It’s danged hard because it’s the only road we know. But we also know it always takes us to the wrong place. So we have to make a decision not to go there anymore!

    This is where I think the phrase “fake it till you make it” comes in. By this time, we know where we want to go – it’s a matter of getting there. The old path didn’t do it for us. We have to choose a new path. Fake it. Behave as if. People will believe you and will respond to you as though your behavior were real. You’ll probably like the response That’s the seratonin building a new pathway. Keep faking it, and you’ll like the response more and more, and the pathway will become wider and wider.

    I have a little more to say on this in response to “The Guy…”

  10. You gals are really smart. I’m listening…

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