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.