Narcissists in the Desert

We’re home.

The vacation zen is making it hard to focus.

I’m short on words but long on photos.

Looking through the 300-plus photos, I started laughing at how much cactus is like a narcissist.

Cactus can be big and beautiful.

Cactus draws you in and makes you want to touch it.

Cactus can be compelling.

Cactus is everywhere.

Cactus grows big and strong, even with flaws.

Cactus grows tall and proud.

 Look, if you must, but don’t touch!


*Let your cursor hover over the pictures to see some funny and oh so true captions.


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  1. Welcome back! I hope you had an amazing and refreshing time off! Will you hate me if I say I realllly dislike cacti? And I hate them all the more when I see ones that flower because I think they’re trying to be what they’re not! BUT, I love your metaphorical post! :)

  2. Christina,

    They are all about deception… aren’t they.

    My beef is that it was impossible to walk barefoot anywhere for fear of getting stuck with something.

    Other than than that, we had an amazing time in the desert.

    p.s. Of course I don’t hate you. ;)

  3. That is the POINT, isn’t it? Lol…sorry had to say it.
    So glad you had a great time! Sorry you have to return to reality with the rest of us… :)

  4. Z,

    Good one!

    I SOOO want to complain about re-entry but I’ve duct-taped my mouth.

    And my fingers are rebelling.

  5. Beautiful pics my dear!!! Hope you all had an amazing trip!! Welcome back, you have been missed :).

  6. Kira,

    We did have a grand time. I travel in good company.

    You must be counting down the days until your vacation?

  7. You all deserved it!! Great memories created, I’m sure. I can’t wait till vacation. I get to see family & get lost in the city (NYC) :) !! 12 days of relaxation!!

  8. Welcome home Jesse!!

    You have the most creative insights. It is painfully true about attempting to get close to a narcissist. I kept thinking it could work if I tried harder, but, in the end, I just wore myself out on so many levels.

    Now I keep my distance as much as I possibly can. I am living and learning all the time!!

    I am glad you had a good trip. Beautiful photos!
    ; )

  9. Kira,

    Yum! 12 days. I hope it goes nice and slow. ;)

  10. Lynn,


    Sadly, those of us who were in a relationship with an N thought we would be spared the hurts, if only we worked harder to please them.

    It’s true what the experts say about No Contact.

  11. What do the experts say about No Contact Jesse? My N is blatantly disrespecting every boundary I’ve set (continuing problem, but the last few days with a manipulative email, her following my blog, and trying to chat me up on Pinterest…) I say/do nothing. I made it clear in May that I would not be communicating with her again. But, the thing is that I feel very powerless saying nothing sometimes. It’s so unfair (I know, shocking with an N) that she can just do whatever the hell she wants, and what do I get to do? Yeah, nothing. It’s making me a bit crazy today. :(

    I hope your trip was wonderful & that you can hang on to the refreshed feeling for a bit! We just got home from the mountains, a little different from the desert, but a nice reprieve…. We toured a cave there… Maybe another narcissistic comparison is in order!


  12. NM,

    Even the simple act of telling her that you will not communicate with her is leaving the door open. If the door is open only a smidgen, the N keeps trying for source. They wear you down. That’s what they do, because they believe you WILL come around. They trust in their specialness and they think that we – even if only momentarily – have forgotten how special they are and that we need to be reminded. That’s why she’s so persistent.

    No Contact means absolutely nothing comes from you. That being said, you cannot control what she does.

    If she keeps running up against a closed door, she’ll eventually have to go somewhere else to get her sourcing.

    Remember how tenacious a 6 year old can be when they desperately want something that you’ve told them they can’t have?

    You are basically dealing with a 6 year old mentality.

    As far as caves and narcissists… All I can think is how fabulous our lives would be if we could contain them all in a cave.

    Sending you strength. Thank God for all your wonderful distractions – they help keep your mind off of her.

  13. Thank you, Jesse. That’s what I have been doing. I bounce emails, I don’t respond to her Pinterest comments. I say nothing. I just can’t go there again. I told her in May 2011 that I would not be responding to her again, and I haven’t. It’s just hard sometimes, she’s so tenacious, and I WANT to give her a piece of my mind!

    I am ok, thanks for the encouragement. Back to my latest crafty endeavors.


  14. NM,

    Your tenacity is admirable – especially given your INFJ nature. You’ve almost made it one whole year!

    Come here to vent whenever you like.


  15. I thought it was just me seeing NPD in everything. I hear a song…yep, he/she is a narcissist. People at work…yep, pegged a malignant narcissist. Maybe my eyes are just wide open now or I am just scarred.

    I echo Kira on you being missed! Hope you had a good weekend, even if it was at home. ;)

  16. Z,

    I know what you mean. Sometimes I think I need to “clean my windows” so that I can see more clearly.

    Then I think…. maybe that’s why we keep seeing narcissism everywhere…. because everyone keeps overlooking the obvious.

    When you look at what’s on TV and listen to the radio, you see examples of how this country is churning out little (teenage) narcissists like that’s something to be proud of.

    What happened to manners, respect for authority, humility and graciousness?

    Or maybe I was born in the wrong era.

  17. The entitlement is maddening! And debilitating… There is something to be said (and I will be sounding real old about now) about how things used to be. As kids, we were not kept in a closet, but knew our place and we turned out ok even though we got most of what we wanted. I see this more at work when you have new graduates expecting higher salaries with no work experience. A degree isn’t everything. You need to learn to work. There is a big difference. As all the parents before us, I worry about when I am old and narcissists are running the country. Yeah, I said it. Lol!

  18. Z,

    YES!!! Thanks for saying it!

    It needs to be said.

    And something NEEDS to be done.

    I’m starting with my little family.

    I teach my two to use manners. I teach them to greet folks properly. I teach them to be respectful. I teach them that it isn’t ALL about them.

    And above all…. I say NO!

    Dammit, it has to start at home or it’s just going to get worse.

    There. Now who sounds old? ;)

  19. I could not agree more with you ladies!! It’s becoming an epidemic like that book I read **shudder** what is it about this generation, why is my question? Is it the immediate gratification? The “online presence” they start creating before they have a solid self-identity? I’m with you on parenting, too. There’s a difference between instilling confidence and creating a little narcissist. My kids are polite, and they don’t believe the universe revolves around them! Amazing! ;) So few people try to be empathetic. But empathy is tricky for me personally… If I tried to put myself into my N friend’s shoes, that’s when I’d get sucked back in. One thing I’m trying to teach my kids is how to deal with difficult people. I wish I’d been taught more than just to “ignore” bullies.

    It’s scary though… And, I’m getting old, too!! ;)


  20. NM,

    I know exactly what you mean about having to be careful when being empathetic.

    Here’s what’s working for me: I put myself out there the way I always have, but now I listen to my body when I do. If I’m in the presence of a “needy” individual – one who takes and takes and takes – and I start to feel the air being sucked from my lungs, and that telltale acid burn in my gut, I back off.

    Better to put that empathy to could use where it’s appreciated and not taken for granted.

  21. Yeah, it’s a sticky one for sure…. I used to think the ability to be empathetic, love unconditionally, and forgive were some of my best qualities. Now I view them as a liability… Not with everyone, but my biggest goal/lesson from all this is, I just can’t go back to that place again, with Anyone. I have to be careful, but my gut feelings do have a lot to do with it, too. I’ve become very intolerant with those who are rude, loud, or overbearing. It’s like I just cannot stand to be around people like that. The alarm bells start blaring in my head, “Danger!” I am glad for those bells though. I think they keep you safe.


  22. As a side note…. Isn’t the physical reaction to the emotional stress kind of amazing? I never realized until after I ended my “friendship” that when the narcissistic abuse was happening, in whatever form it took at that moment (and there were several different types of abusive treatment.) that my heart would start to race, my breathing would become shallow, and I’d feel this sort of “starburst” feeling in my brain… Not a headache, more like panic. Lately, like when I got the email the other day, it’s there but it feels much less intense. I **almost** have the ability to laugh at how ridiculously she’s behaving. Baby steps…. But it shocked me when I realized how powerful the physical reaction was. Fight or flight, I guess.

  23. NM,

    I’m so glad to hear you say that. I was thinking my intolerance of rude, loud and overbearing people had something to do with getting older. ;)

    I hope my kids have well-developed alarm systems by the time they reach adulthood.

  24. NM,

    I can completely relate to your comment and the fight/flight thing.

    It was enlightening and a bit embarrassing when I realized that – all along – I thought that – anxiety, shallow breathing, fear and panic – was a normal part of being married. Every time I’d feel my heart race I’d think, “I’ve messed up again. What should I have done differently? I’m running out of options. How should I handle this next time?”

    The more my heart raced, the more I felt like the hamster on the spinning wheel.

    Now that I’m off the wheel, I want to apologize to myself for thinking I ever deserved that treatment, and for putting up with it.

  25. Hi NM

    You absolutely can give your N a piece of your mind. Here’s how you do it:

    Get a piece of paper, maybe several, and some sharpened pencils. Find a quiet place with no disturbances, and write her a letter!

    This letter is for YOU, so you will not send it, except thru the ethers.

    Write down everything you’ve ever wanted to say to your ‘N-friend’, and sign your letter. Read it out loud at least once, but up to several times may be necessary.

    Then burn it. Make sure the ashes are free to fly around outside (ie: don’t put them in a trash bag for pick up).

    I’ve used this technique for years, and I love it!

    Good Luck.

  26. Hi Donna, thanks for the tip! I actually have written “to” her several times, just journaling, but I have not tried burning it, it may be a release! thanks again for the idea.

    Jesse, I know, it’s amazing how the body just **knows** isn’t it?? Definitely has been an interesting discovery for me. Having heard your “pepcid” stories, I knew you had been through that, too. I just never got the “brain starburst” feeling with other people much… I mean, it’s happened, but primarily with my “friend.” I’m just glad I can cope better with her bs now. Since it sounds like it may be awhile before she leaves me alone. Yuck. :(

    Hope you all are having a good week. Happy Easter if you celebrate it!


  27. NM,

    We do an egg hunt in the morning – even tho’ my two know that I am the Easter Bunny.

    Some traditions are too sweet to give up. :)

    Happy Easter to you and yours.

    p.s. I hope the Easter Bunny drops a big egg on your “friend’s” head.

  28. Hi there, back to the cactuses, my N who just called me new years eve to tell me he never loved me and is in love with a 26 yr old from Argentina, the country where his grandfather came from (who left his grandmother when she got pregnant and never was heard of again), well I remember he has told me countless times of his adoration of cactuses, I think he even got a job at a garden store in high school in order to collect all of the cactuses. Anyway, I have a 3 yr old boy, 5 year old boy with cerebral palsy, and an 8 yr old girl. I am going crazy, and it’s late, and I am finding your site for the second time since I discovered NPD 4 months ago. Thanks for writing! The photos are lovely too.

  29. Joni,

    Thanks for writing.

    I’m sorry you are going crazy. Many here know that feeling.

    I hope you find some solace in knowing exactly what you are dealing with.

    Hug your babies. They are blessed to have you for their mom.

  30. Dead on, Jesse. A close friend of mine told me years ago that hugging my ex N was like hugging a cactus. Beautifully painful.
    I struggle daily to not have contact with him; we started dating when I was thirteen. I want so badly to strike back with words but have seen through twenty seven years of trial and error with him that any attention feeds his beast. My three amazing teenage daughters that I stayed at home to raise are still with him in the marital home. He has convinced them that I’m mentally ill. All my actions (and non-actions) are manipulated into “See your mom’s illness?” by him. It helps me to think that my girls are under a spell. I’m slowly realizing that it may take their leaving the house after high school for them to understand his manipulation. The only things that are keeping me from doing something criminal or going crazy are sites like yours and resounding support – loved ones telling me to cut him out of my life entirely.

  31. Julie,

    You nailed it when you said, “… any attention feeds his beast.” Whether we ignore them or cater to them or simply answer a question, everything feeds them.

    I have to ask: If you started dating him at 13, and spent 27 years doing his bidding, are you just now discovering who you really are? Your preferences? Your interests? What it is that makes Julie come alive? I hope the positive energies generated from discovering yourself outweigh the sadness surrounding your girls.

    And as I was reminded many times from the fine people who comment on this site… children are resilient.

  32. Hi Julie,
    I don’t know if you are looking for advice or not, but I hear sadness and perhaps some feeling like things are out of your control. I thought maybe sharing what I did may also help you.

    For me, the tables turned when I established contact rules. The daily contact sent me back to square one questioning my decisions and doubting my strength. After I cut out the conversations, I was more confident in moving on and quickly did not ‘miss him’. Peace ensued.

    Rule #1 Only contact me regarding the children (visitation or to speak to them directly). No conversations about anything else are allowed.

    Rule #2 Only contact me in text or email. This allowed me to keep record of what he said, but also it decreased the verbal abuse and the fighting. When the emotions are running high, it is easy to get sucked into a nonsensical debate that you will never win. I also regained control of what I responded to and what I did not.

    Rule #3 Do not talk to the children about me. He will anyway, but that is not the point. The point is to make it clear to him that this is not acceptable. The children should also be told that he is not to talk about you or his problems with you to them. And the same for you. This is big in court. It also allows you to establish the trust that you need to have with the children. They will come to the conclusion soon enough that it is not you.

    I wish you the best. This is hard, but you should be proud of yourself for standing up after all these years!

  33. Hey Julie, I can relate to your story on so many levels. My narcissist was not my husband but my “best friend” that I met at 12, and finally walked away from at 36. One thing that really helped me to feel better about the whole thing was to realize that I made a poor choice in friends as a child. That as an adult, I really surrounded myself with healthy people. It sounds like you have loving and supportive people around you. Invest your energy in them and your girls.
    Focus on learning about the adult you right now. I’ve been amazed at what I’ve learned about me and how much I’ve grown up! Sometimes being stuck in these emotionally abusive childhood relationships, make it hard for us to really have evolved they way we should have.

    With my N friend I learned that ignoring her seemed to fuel her rage as much as the relationship did. I have stuck with No Contact since May 2011. This April the online harassment got so out of control that I had to get the police involved. They told me that I had enough evidence for a felony stalking charge if I chose to pursue it. Sticking with NC has been the best in the long run, even though it seemed at first that it was making things worse.

    Since that point, I have chosen to not even look at her things on a social networking site. I have told our mutual friends that if she’s trashing me, I don’t need to know. I’ve done the most healing since I really let it go. I figure if I do nothing, even on a level of expending any energy on looking, then her rants and insults are in a vacuum. She won’t get any more of me.

    I wish you all the best! This is a wonderful site. Jesse and the other ladies are amazing. You are NOT crazy. I know someday your girls will see. Big hugs and I’ll be sending you some good energy vibes. ;)


  34. Z,

    Bless you, and thank you for reaching out and sharing.

  35. NM,

    Bless you, too, for sharing and for sending such encouraging words.

  36. LOL I laughed at the picture captions. “N’s are everywhere”….yep, there are herds of them everywhere. We have the advantage now…we’re wiser. :)

  37. Reading this is kind of surreal. I am 8 years out and have cooperation from the N. It is really hard for me to go back to these memories now even when I will never totally let my guard down. A friend of mine wanted to start a blog on NPD. I tried, but I couldn’t get my heart in to it. I selfishly want to move on with as little NPD in my life as possible. Thank you, Jesse, for your dedication to keeping your blog available even when you wanted to let go and your wisdom through all these years. xxx

  38. Z,

    I’ve really gotten into listening to Esther Hicks. She’d tell me, “Jesse, if you keep thinking about it, it’ll keep coming around.” And I know that. But …. I can’t quit thinking about all the kids out there who deal with this. It’s probably narcissistic of me to think this blog amounts to a hill of beans, or helps a kid navigate her life with a narcissistic parent. I sure thought I’d have run out of stuff to write about narcissism by now. And then, I get another letter from someone who says they are so glad they found this site, and that they have hope for their own kids.

    And here I am …. still writing about narcissism for the kids and their struggling non-narcissistic parents.

    Thanks for checking in. I’m glad you are so done with NPD.

  39. Have you heard of Healing Touch? It’s an energy therapy that you can perform for yourself or others. I find it an easy way to cleanse my aura. It takes practice, but it’s worth it. I don’t use it as much as I should. I do find myself automatically doing it to target headaches and neck strain. I need to incorporate 10 minutes at the end of the day to clear everything for a restful sleep. I use hydrosols for an easy clear out in the morning. Fragonia is my favorite. It may help keep the NPD away while you are helping others. This blog is SO very important! I wouldn’t have grown as quickly without you. :*

  40. Z,

    I’ll have to look into Healing Touch. I’ve not heard of it. Sounds kinda like Reiki?

    Which reminds me, it might be time for a foot zone therapy visit.

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