The Day She Gave Up On Herself

She hadn’t planned to turn her back on herself.  She didn’t wake up one morning and say, “This feels like the right day to put myself aside for this relationship.”

It just happened.

Like so many things just happen.

 

Team Players

In an effort to keep the peace, not rock the boat, keep him from getting angry, or to avoid a disagreement, she made the choice to not stick up for herself.

At the time, it didn’t seem like a concession.

She had expressed the desire to have her family come for dinner.   He was tired, however, and he’d had a long day at work.  He’d given her plausible excuses for why they shouldn’t have company.

And because he is her priority – because they are a team – she understood and said, “Of course, honey.  We’ll have them for dinner another evening – an evening when you choose – an evening when you feel like having company.”

__________

In order for this to work, one partner takes the back seat on an issue.  She was fine with that because she believed he would willingly take the back seat on the next issue.

Because that’s how it works – in a real team – a team where both players are committed to the relationship.

Because that’s what couples do.

Couples compromise.

 

Except When They Don’t

They’d had that conversation last week.

She wanted to believe that this week would be different.

She greeted him at breakfast and asked if he’d mind if they invited company for the evening.  In her bright voice she said, “Honey, I need to see my family.  We don’t have to make it a production.  We don’t have to do a whole meal together.  I’d like them to come over.  We could play cards or just sit and visit – nothing special.  I need to get caught up on their lives.”

She paused and said, “What do you think?”

 

 

He put down the newspaper and said, “Do you want to know what I need?  I need a hot meal on the table at the end of the day.  I need a considerate wife who understands that I work my ass off all day.  I need some compassion here.  I need to know that I won’t have any demands at home because I deal with demands all day long at work.”

Then he asked, “What do you think of that?”

He got up from the table before she had a chance to answer him.

 

The Lonely Back Seat

She didn’t call her mom.

It was easier to keep the peace.

She resigned herself to the idea that it in order for there to be harmony in the home, it’d be best if she made him comfortable.  Since he was her priority, that shouldn’t be difficult.

She could do this.

She could put his needs before hers.

She could get comfortable in the back seat.

One day he’d see that it was her turn.  Surely, one day it would be her turn to have her needs met.

__________

By the time he got home from work, she was wearing the skirt he had picked out – the one he insisted that she buy.

She had his favorite music playing.

She was placing the last fork on the table as he walked in the back door.

“It smells great in here,” he said.

“I made your favorite.  I thought you’d enjoy a hot meal after a long day.”

He looked around and said, “We aren’t expecting anyone, right?”

“No, honey, it’ll just be the two of us.”

 

 

 

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60 comments

  1. Oy. Talk about soul-killing.

    Glad that sh*t is over! :)

  2. Donna,

    Yeah. Me, too.

    ‘Cept, I worry about the ones still dealing with that sh*t.

  3. Donna, you are great!

    I shivered through that whole thing. But I shivered through lunch talking about sh*t because my custody case is next week…and he has subpoenaed my 8 year old to court. Truly, the only thing they care about is winning.

  4. Z,

    I hope that special place in hell is big enough for all of ’em.

  5. And a little hotter than the rest of it!
    I know my punkin is going to worry so much the whole day about it. He already worries so much about making his dad upset that I am afraid he will say something he will regret. He is only 8 for crying out loud!!! WTF…

  6. Oh Zaira! I can’t even imagine…

    You have my hottest prayers going up for you right now.

    I’ll just keep sending angels!

    Keep us posted.

  7. Wow, I can only imagine how hard this would be with a spouse. With my N friend, it was realizing that I “went along” with things that I morally opposed, just to prevent the next fight, the next attack. It was sort of a shoulder-shrug/sigh “move” I developed over the years. I look back now and hate that I didn’t stand up more, didn’t say more.

    But the thing is with narcissism, there is no preventing it, there is no insurance policy to prevent the next fallout, the next drama, the next attack. Next week it would be something you didn’t even anticipate being a problem. There’s no rhyme or reason.

    So very very glad that neither of us are still in a situation like that! Happy New Year, may it be filled with peace, self-confidence, grace, and wisdom. (and many congrats on your blogger award, SO well-deserved!!)

    hugs, NM

  8. Reading this now really makes me wonder how any of us decided we were not important enough to be treated better. I look back and wonder why I ever thought I wasn’t worth better.

    Now to figure out how to make someone very important in my life see that they deserve better.

    We set examples for our children. How do we change the example we set when it was wrong? That is a big question right now!

  9. Z,

    That is some kind of contradiction that a “system” set up to attend to the the best interests of children would put a child through something like that.

    That doesn’t make any sense.

  10. NM,

    You are SO right. Standing up for yourself this week doesn’t mean you won’t have to do that again next week, on a totally different subject – or even on the same subject.

    It never ends.

    The lines always change.

    Thanks for the congrats. ;)

  11. Kath,

    That is an urgent question.

    Those grooves run deep. How do we help our kids start healthy grooves in new directions?

    Calling all Thrivers! Please share your input on this one.

  12. What I have learned about the ‘system’ is that everyone in it has their own agenda. The mediator wants a compromise. The judge wants a settlement. The attorneys want their money. And narcissists want to win at any cost. I just want my kid to be safe, to grow up compassionate and happy. I will fight, I will make it through, but damn it is hard!

    Thank you Donna! I am going to need them all!!!

  13. … and the kids get lost in the shuffle.

    Dammit.

  14. You know, I think it’s more the status quo. The accepting of that abusive treatment? It starts slowly and small, and before you know it, you’re the main “supply” for a full-blown narcissist. I say these things (& because of the no rhyme or reason aspect that I mentioned before) because I want people in relationship with Ns to know. Yes there may be a part of you that loves too much or tries too hard, etc. But I feel it’s important to look at what your impetus is or was.

    I try to not beat myself up for the screwups I made then. When you know better, you do better. :)

    Zaira, girl you are walking through the fire right now. I am so sorry for that. I’m praying for you & sending lots of good energy your way.

    Hope everyone is well,

  15. Oh honey. I’m so sorry you felt you had to do that. And I’m so proud of you for what you’re able to write about now. And…I have to say I’m really glad others are able to read what you write so they can see that if they’re going through this, they don’t have to.

  16. I just read through the other comments and saw the one from Kath about helping kiddos learn their own grooves and not learn to put themselves after someone else. I don’t know that there’s a good answer for this. We do small things for all our children like when it is one child’s birthday, we get a small gift for the other kids so they don’t feel unimportant. And in dealing with the N in our family who is their grandmother, we always insist she spend the same amount of time with the kids. I think as they get older, they will form their own opinions of how much of themselves they should commit to others, and I hope they continue to ask me as many questions then as they do now.

  17. Jenn,

    I learned so much when reading about others in the same situation. That’s my goal here… to shine some light.

    Thanks for your kind words for Kath.

  18. Kath, Jesse I will attempt to add my input. I just hope it makes sense.

    What is most important to realize is that the past in many ways are no longer present. You both made a hard, but necessary choice to change your environment. This was done because you realized you deserved better, but more importantly your loved ones deserved better. It was the necessary 1st step in repairing those deep rooted grooves.

    How do we show our kids/loved ones how to develop new healthy grooves? Great question!! I think one has to be aware first of what they have control of. We can’t control other people, although we wish could. Our loved ones/kids may still feel the occasional sting, whether it’s from their father, a friend, etc. This in many cases is inevitable. We worry that negative grooves from the stings continue to do damage.

    Don’t worry!! This is where our important shift comes into play. This is when we begin the development of healthy grooves.

    hint: I already know you both do this :).

    Healthy Grooves Checklist:
    -to continue to provide a safe, healthy home environment filled with warmth, love & plenty of laughter
    -to continue to nurture their creativity
    -to continue to teach them to praise and honor their authentic voice.
    -to continue to teach them self worth and to appreciate their own uniqueness, and what they believe and feel matters.
    -to continue to support and comfort them when the stings are felt. Our listening & words of encouragement through the tears speak volumes.

    See you are already modeling these things for them…the seeds are being planted everyday.

  19. Kira!!

    Thank you, thank you.

    I know Kath’s kids are older. You gave her some tangible steps that will work with older kids.

    Bless you for sharing your wise words. ;)

  20. Bless you all for sharing your narratives :) !!!

  21. Jesse, this is soul moving stuff. You are a terrific writer. I’m subscribed and will be here regularly.

  22. Drew,

    Thank you. I enjoy your perspective and your blog. A lot. ;)

  23. Jesse (and others),

    I find such comfort in reading and listening to your voices. I am moved by your courage and humor.

    Losing oneself happens gradually. I know I went along to get along–to try to avoid the wrath. It then became a lifestyle and a very unhealthy one for my children and me. I will never again live a life in which I fly under the radar to survive.

    I wish all of you peace in your homes and hearts!

  24. I also want to add that I am praying for all the kids effected by a N parent–all those mentioned on this blog and everywhere. It is so hard to see the damage and not be able to stop it completely. I know for my situation, I have taken steps to do all I can and could do to lessen the damage and try to make it stop. I will certainly keep at it too.

    Unfortunately, the “system” seems obsessed with protecting parental rights even at the expense of the well-being of children. It makes me very sad and mad.

    I am sending all of you prayers for healing and protection of every kind.

  25. Lynn,

    I believe Will and Jen chose me to be their mom because my experiences would help them navigate all this stuff with their dad.

    I believe the same is true for you and Zaira and all the others who had children with a narcissist.

    On the most difficult days, I remind myself that my two wouldn’t have chosen me if they didn’t think I could handle the task.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… we are blessed to have the company of some outstanding compassionate and caring people on this blog.

    Peace to you and yours, Lynn. ;)

  26. Jesse,
    I love that thought…that our kids chose us to help them deal with their dads. It actually takes away a bit of the regret I have in being with him in the first place, gave it a purpose rather than just the feeling of torture.

    Thank you, Lynn, for your prayers and thoughts. The same are coming back to you. My youngest son once told me that he may have to go live with his dad and if that happened, he would be sad because he wouldn’t see me as much and he likes our home, living with his brother, playing with the neighbors…etc. So, I asked him if he wanted me to fight for him. And he said YES!!! PLEASE FIGHT FOR ME!!! It keeps me going. It keeps me broke (lol), but it keeps me fighting.

    May the new year be better than the last for all of us! No matter how small of an improvement, it is still a new life. xxx

  27. Is there anything more awe-inspiring than women who fight for their kids?

  28. Is there anything more awe-inspiring than women who fight for their kids?

    I really do think that’s the most awe-inspiring parental phrase I’ve ever heard. Keep it up moms :)

  29. Once I told my Mom that I was sorry she had to be married to my Dad, sorry that she’d dealt with his lack of connection for so long, sorry that instead of leaving her when he had an affair, he strung her along for two years while he “made up his mind” and you know how wise mothers are… She just smiled and said, ‘but if I wouldn’t have met him, I wouldn’t have my 3 kids who are amazing, and special, and you wouldn’t be you if you were someone else’s child, so you see it was all worth it.” And that was that. I’ll never fully “get” my Dad, but I do love him. and once I understood more about how he’s wired, and became older, I really was able to let go of most of that anger and sadness. I believe that being the child of a N can really make you even more aware. big hugs to all who are walking through the fire.

  30. NM,

    Your mom sounds amazing, poised and wise. You picked good. ;)

  31. I think so, too ;) also Will & Jenny picked good. ;) and, I daresay the children of any woman on this thread. The fact that you care enough about your kids well-being, their spiritual and emotional wholeness, says a whole lot about the kind of Moms you are. Your kids will be ok.

    xo, NM

  32. NM,

    I’m betting your comment will fall on very appreciative ears.

    ;)

  33. Thank you! I needed to hear that just now. xxx

  34. I’m glad it helped you, Zaira. BIG virtual hugs!

    xo
    N

  35. Wow. I know this post is a couple of weeks old, but I had to comment on it, because it summarizes my marriage. For 5 years (8 if you include the 3 we dated seriously), I waited for it to be my turn- for us to make my needs or what was important for my career, emotional health, spirituality, you name it- a priority. But he always had a very viable excuse why we couldn’t. Or, he would placate me by saying we would…and then back out and chide me for being a child with pipe dreams.
    What’s so funny is, I would not have taken any action that would have negatively impacted him. Because I loved him, and would think of him and more recently our 2 year old daughter before I thought of my career, my family of origin, or myself.
    But because he is a narcissist, he always thought of himself. Only. And what would be the best move for him. Maybe he thought that I would do the same? Who knows, at this point.
    It’s a profound post, Jesse- because little by little you completely disappear. One by one, you make these small decisions…and then you’re gone. You don’t even know what you want. And you don’t even realize it, because it has happened at a glacial pace. You wouldn’t tolerate it if a man told you you could never see your mother again (to use the example in the post), but if he chips away at it, he manipulates us into doing it for him.
    I’ve just begun the divorce process from my narcissist, and I’ve been having a tremendously difficult time trying to figure out where to rent an apartment…and I think this has something to do with it. When was the last time *I* made a decision about my personal life? About 8 years ago.
    I look forward to having to defend this decision, and every single one I make to follow, to him. (Sigh). Just this evening, he tried to muscle me over something ridiculous. He is on a trip, and kindly, I am bringing our daughter over to his mother’s house. (She’s not Patient Zero of the narcissism in that family- it goes back further- but she definitely has the disorder, and features of a few other personality disorders as well. She adores my daughter and it’s manageable now while my daughter is still small. But the time is rapidly approaching when…well, that’s another topic). Anyway, my good friend lives very close to his mother, and my daughter *adores* my friend- so we will also visit her in the afternoon. Tonight when he called to say goodnight to our daughter, my ex asked if I was bringing her to his mom’s; I said yes, and also explained about my friend. He said, “Well, just be sure she also gets to spend time with my mother, because my mother really likes it when she’s over there.” That was his way of trying to control me, and also to communicate that he didn’t like me changing plans around- whatever- even just having a mind of my own.
    I felt myself get angry. I wanted to say something snarky back. But I realized- there’s no point. The time for that was while we were married. Now, I can simply just laugh to myself as he helplessly tries to continue to issue directives and gets infuriated when I don’t follow them.
    I’m taking the pieces back.

  36. Lauren,

    Thank you so much for writing.

    And it is one piece at a time. After you’ve gathered a few pieces, maybe you’ll remind the rest of the world about Lauren. She’ll resurface after 8 years and everyone will be so delighted to see her. You’ll gain confidence. You’ll notice your skin fits better and that you can see more clearly. During this process, you’ll find the perfect apartment – one where the minute you cross the threshold, you recognize it and feel yourself breathe easier.

    I felt chills on the back of my neck when reading, “That was his way of trying to control me…” They are so subtle, so seemingly innocently manipulative. If you were to mention his attempts to control the situation, I can hear him say, “What? I’m not controlling anything! I want the best for our daughter… for everyone concerned.”

    Oh… I know. I have been there. He still tries. I don’t have to listen.

    … one piece at a time.

    All the best to you and your daughter.

  37. Jesse,
    Thank you so much for writing back. Yes, indeed, it’s true- any confrontation would have been met with the response that I was crazy and that he was merely suggesting our daughter spend time with her dear grandmother.
    Crazy like a fox, as they say.
    I do my best not to listen, but I always feel that weird anxiety when I don’t. I stick with it, and I don’t listen- but I hope that anxious feeling goes away eventually. I’m sure it will.
    Thank you for this blog; it’s wonderful.
    Lauren

  38. Lauren,

    It’s not in our natures to not listen. That’s why we need excellent filters. I’m still working on mine.

    The anxiousness does go. Trust me. ;)

  39. Oh Lauren, you just gave a (sadly) perfect description of relating to an N. I, too, still get nauseous when I see my N “friend’s” name in my inbox. How could you possibly have another idea than the one he had, Lauren? don’t you know that his ideas are always the “correct” ones? yuck. Of course sarcasm totally intended!

    Until I understood about Narcissism, I never understood why my friend could not see things in shades of gray. Everything was black/white, right/wrong. And those opinions changed at the drop of a hat, plus she’d come completely unglued if anyone dared to disagree with her.

    She said she despised smoking and would mention that loudly in front of strangers who smoked, and any friends she knew that smoked that she was trying to ruffle. But then, I saw her smoke a few times when it was cool, or be understanding about the habit to a friend she was trying to impress. Whatever suited her at the moment.

    Eluding them is like being hunted by the FBI, however. I’ve tried the “no contact” thing, (a bit easier when there’s no custody agreements or weekends with the kids) and even though I don’t make contact, she just makes new email, text and Blogger accounts so she can say whatever she wants to me/whenever she wants. I think I’ve counted 9 new accounts so far. The last contact I had with her (May 2011) I told her, “whatever you chose to do, I will not be responding again.” the complete LACK of boundaries on her part, literally makes my skin crawl. It’s just proof that with an N you are not seen, your needs don’t matter, the boundaries you set to protect yourself will not be respected.

    Almost to one year anniversary from walking away (this week, in fact!), and it does get easier, I’m so much happier, but I still do have anxiety over the whole thing. Grow and go is my new mantra.

    big hugs Lauren and Jesse.

  40. NM,

    I love your stories from the “war zone”. It blows my mind that a friendship with a narcissist is so eerily similar to a romantic relationship with one.

    The tactics are the same.

    The more we learn, the better off we are.

  41. I love that….Grow and go!
    Wow, NM has it been a year already? How do you feel?

    The lack of boundaries really hit home with me. Recently, I had a situation, not from my ex-N, that put me in a situation where my boundaries were completely disregarded and disrespected. I felt the panic creeping up on the inside. I tried to remain calm and state my need for space again, again violated (in the name of teasing), and I freaked out. This happened in a similar situation with my ex-N that sent me into the same frenzy early on in our marriage. I wasn’t in physical danger, but emotionally it was alarming. I received an apology, but I have a hard time engaging with this person at all and even though I have ignored attempts at communication, the persistence is there.

    Do you think that a close friendship and a romantic relationship are one and the same to a narcissist?

  42. Z,

    As I was reading, I was reminded of instances in my own life – where my feelings were totally disregarded. It’s a complete dismissal.
    And even with an apology, it’s hard to feel like you can trust that person again.

    Good question… I’m thinking on that.

    Thrivers? What do you think?

  43. Well, I haven’t been in a romantic relationship with one, so it’s hard for me to know/comment about that. But I think when you are their primary “supply” there’s going to be significant emotional damage done. I believe I was that with my N friend. Her parents boosted her behavior by always telling her how perfect she was, and she and her husband were very disconnected…. But i was the perfect supply source in many ways because I was so significantly INVESTED in the relationship. It was definitely a “primary” relationship for me.

    I think when things can get really dangerous in a narcissistic relationship (no matter friend/spouse/family member), when the most damage is done, is when the pattern of abuse has been set. You play your role (though you are assuming that you are just being you), and they believe that you are so invested you will never leave. The patterns of EMOTIONAL abuse/denial/forgiveness/repeat are probably almost identical, regardless the type of relationship.

    For me, it was hard because this was a person that had been present at every major milestone in my life, since I was 12 years old. I don’t (or should say didn’t) believe in abandoning people, and she knew that. She knew I had an extremely forgiving nature and she knew that I loved her unconditionally. I am not exaggerating when I say there were literally thousands of times I forgave so many abusive behaviors, starting when we were kids. We were “friends” for 24 years.

    I think there are parts of breaking apart from a narcissistic spouse that would be much much harder. When there is property to divvy up, custody arrangements (and knowing the other parent is an N, I am sure it’s heart-wrenching to have to make those kinds of decisions, I can’t imagine), and legal battles. I never had to deal with any of that. In that way, the friendship part was easier. I left & haven’t seen her in over a year. Also having your children’s reactions and feelings about their other parent to understand and help them heal as well. These are the reasons I think it would be harder to heal from a Narcissistic marriage.

    One of my close friends is a family therapist. She made a very profound point to me once that sent a chill down my spine. She said that since my dad was an N, and I developed this friendship so young, that was the reason I **didn’t** marry a Narcissist. I was already trying to work though the damage done by my Dad with my friend instead. There was already a Primary N in my life. **shudder** but now that I get it, I believe it.

    Peace to all of you today. Healing comes, and thank you all for sharing yours with me.

    xo NM

  44. and, Z, yes I think, particularly when you’ve been in an N relationship, boundaries become a VERY BIG DEAL no matter who you’re dealing with. In many ways, my expectations of people are much lower now, and that’s a good thing. I think people give what they give in whatever way they can give it. I make my own happiness. And, I now have boundaries like Fort Knox ;) Kapish?

  45. NM,

    Thanks for sharing this with us. It is chilling to think that you’d develop an identical (to that of the one with your father) relationship when so young. But! And it’s a big one!! You didn’t end up marrying an N! Hooray for you and your kids.

    And as far as boundaries are concerned…

    Now if we can instill the wisdom of healthy boundaries in our kids…

  46. oh, I am ALL for that! ;)

  47. Thank you ladies- for all of your thoughts. NM, I can’t believe your friend! How crazy! What must a person be thinking to ignore the fact that you are actively avoiding her- yet she continues to find ways to contact you? They really are bad at reality in some ways, aren’t they?

    I will not comment on boundaries, because I am terrible at them. I either set them WAY too strictly, or not nearly strict enough. This is a big growth area for me, so I look forward to reading a lot and learning from you all.

    My understanding about the whole narcissists in relationships- whether it’s romantic ones or friendships- is that everyone is an object to them. So maybe the answer is they see us all the same way, but we see them differently depending on the role they play in our lives? Because we’re relating to them as actual people? I read something really scary about narcissists as parents: “A parent who is a narcissist will relate to his/her child as, at best, a prized possession.” I totally see this with my ex and our daughter; it’s utterly freakish. She is not a person to him- she’s a reflection of him that he adores, because she’s little and isn’t challenging him (yet). I mean, she is for a 2 year old- but not really challenging his idea of himself. Things will get fun when she’s a teenager I expect.

    Good grief.

  48. I am slowly being consumed by a narcissist, I honestly feel as though he is driving me insane, I think I want out. Reading the above posts is a strange comfort to know I’m not alone in this hell. I spoke with my doctor the other day to gain strength as I want out. Hope I can figure it all out.

  49. AMEN!
    Sometimes I wonder IF I can teach my kids about healthy boundaries when I feel unsure of them myself. And then I think, I KNOW about how it feels to have them dismissed so perhaps there is something I can share with them. My mantra for the week…TRUST YOUR GUT!

  50. Melissa,

    I got a lot of clarity on what to do when I read everything I could get my hands on. As you learn more about NPD, you’ll begin to feel stronger.

    One day at a time.

    Take good care of yourself.

    Jesse

  51. Lauren,

    The part about how kids are treated by a narcissistic parent is the most heartbreaking thing to those of us who have kids.

    It’s difficult to comprehend how someone isn’t capable of seeing precious children for the miracles they are, but that’s exactly it… kids are simply extensions of the narcissist.

  52. Z,

    Clearly I’ve a lot to learn on the boundary thing.

    My gut is telling me that boundaries need not be fixed. They ought to flex and change as we do – as relationships change. (Ahem…. in those relationships that are capable of change, which pretty much excludes relationships with narcissists!)

    I’m just realizing this.

    So the lesson for our kids = set boundaries, test the boundaries, re-evaluate, and re-set.

  53. Melissa, I am wishing you strength and courage as you figure out the right thing for you. This place has been a haven for me to share my thoughts, baggage, relapses. lol. And to learn so much….

    Lauren, I think you are right in saying we are objects and reflections of themselves as we are (to them) an extension of themselves. I have a teenager that can attest to the heart wrenching havoc that comes with age. He was not allowed to be himself. Ever. And now that he is, he is ‘disgusting’ ‘loser’…on and on. I didn’t know how to handle the damage of the narcissist then because we were both in the same situation, but I am hoping for my 8 year old things will be different. The discussions have begun and he has a safe place away from his dad at least most of the time…until he is old enough to have a say of when and how much he exposes himself.

  54. Lauren’s comment about narcissist’s as parents really hits home for our family. My husband’s mother is the N & the problems I personally have had with her sound eerily similar to what NM & Lauren described in their posts. But my husband was always the favored child and his mother definitely treats him as if he is her possession…even to the point to throw an actual fit when on one trip home he told her he didn’t want her planning out his time. She has made comments such as “I don’t want to have to share you” about him right in front of me.

    Luckily for us (or we wouldn’t still be a happily married family) my husband was able after several years to realize her lack of boundaries and her sense of “ownership” of him was not healthy.

    I’m not in a position to get her out of our lives, but we are trying to set boundaries and remind her of them with the kids. It is not a fun situation and I think in all honesty it’s going to get more complicated as the kids get older, but we’re doing our best.

    Finding Jesse’s blog and this wonderful community of thrivers has helped so very much more than I can really say. Keep it up you guys…we really can do it.

    And my mantra for dealing with the N is – You have no power over me ;-)

  55. Jenn,

    I love your mantra!

    Thanks for sharing here. The more we get the word out, the more others will be helped.

    You are a most welcomed addition to this fine group of thrivers. ;)

  56. Ok, I have been out all day; keeping up with this conversation on my phone and being so frustrated that I couldn’t chime in! LOL ;)

    @Lauren: Yep, I think it’s what my “friend” wants, though. And as all of us know, what they want is what they will try and get. I have read numerous articles and books that state that a Narcissist will do just about everything to hang on to a “supply” source, they have no true sense of self, so they create one by the drama, the abuse, the fighting, the perceived admiration/attention they get.

    @Melissa: You are in the hardest place right now. I am with Jesse, knowledge certainly was power for me. I’ve read everything I can find about NPD. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Please know that the commenters on Jesse’s wonderful blog have all been there. We’ve all gone 100 rounds with them. We get it. Big hugs!

    @Zaira: I’m sure it’s scary to think what kind of damage has been done with your teenager. Though it seemed like hell at the time; my brother, sister and I have often been grateful that our parents divorced. Having my Dad gone (and he pretty much abandoned us after the divorce, maybe 3-4 phone calls per year, one visit) really allowed us to have somewhat of a “normal” development with my Mom. I believe your kids will come through this. That which does not kill us truly makes us stronger. And, you are sensitive to them, which is going to help them in amazing ways! I wish my Mom had known about NPD when I was growing up. It’s only all come together for us both since I ended this friendship. It helped a LOT of the pieces in my life fall together and make sense.

    @Jenn: NO she does NOT have any power! Isn’t that freeing to realize that? For months with my N friend harassing me, begging me to come back, and attacking me to others; I felt like I was giving up my power by not fighting back, not saying anything. But I knew that any conversations, any “chink in my armor” would just invite her back in. Eventually I came to realize that the ACTION of doing nothing was really the most powerful. She can fight all she wants, with my ghost! ;) I know you do not have the ability to cut you MIL out (and I think it’s wise that your husband has set boundaries, but that you’re also leaving that up to him) but my advice in your dealings with her would just be as uninvolved as possible. I am sure you are already there. :)

    In reading some of your newer posts, Jesse, I had a new realization. My fears of other people’s anger, etc. are really fears of NPD anger, not regular anger. I’m learning that some anger in healthy relationships is normal. When in the relationship with the friend I would become terribly panicked that ANYONE might become angry with me. My mom, my husband, my friends or my kids; I would do anything to avoid anger. Between coming more confident and less afraid, I’m learning that normal/healthy anger from a normal/healthy person is really not scary, that it is often the gateway to a real conversation and a new understanding. It made me realize that when you are in an unhealthy relationship, you get scared that not just your N, but everyone around you is also unhealthy. And, at least for me, I’m finding that mostly they are not.

    big hugs to all, NM

  57. NM,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for caring and taking the time to write to each.

    Similar to your points on normal anger in healthy relationships… I remember sitting back and marveling at how interactions in a healthy relationship are so different. People get angry. They speak of their anger. We discuss. We apologize. We move on.

    Who knew it could be so normal? I sure didn’t.

  58. I’ve been hanging on to this and just realized it ought to be posted here.

    I enjoy following Linda on Twitter – @TalkTherapyBiz.

    She has keen insights and a great sense of humor.

    http://www.talktherapybiz.com/secrets-of-a-boundary-driven-life/

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