When the Narcissist Tries

Wizzy takes up golfYou might be laughing at the title of this post. You might be thinking, “Ha! Like a narcissist ever tries. Never is more like it!”

Oh, but they do try.  They try to get along when their source has dried up.  When they are craving narcissistic supply, they will pull out all the stops to try to get attention from you.  This is what it looks like:

  • Your narcissistic dad will call and ask you how Beth Ann is doing.  You’ll continue along with the conversation even though you know he’s talking about your buddy, Annabeth.  Your mom has even introduced him to Annabeth.  You and your mom have both corrected him when he has called Annabeth by other names including Abigail, Alyssa, Alicia and Annie.  He could write the name down because he is a note taker.  You’ve seen him write down lots of lists – names of flies, best spots for flyfishing, the name of someone who might be selling a raft.  It’s just that your buddy’s name isn’t important enough for your dad to keep track of.
  • When you tell your narcissistic dad that your grandparents are helping with the costs of golf, he’ll say, “Geez, that’s great.  Are you going to have any time to go fishing or hiking or camping with me?”
  • When your narcissistic dad comes over to check out your newest project, “He’ll say, ‘You sure our talented.  Why did you do it that way?  Wouldn’t you want to do it this way?  Geez, I would have never done it that way.  I would have done it this way.'”
  • Your narcissistic dad will start to ask you what you have planned for the summer.  He’ll even make eye contact.  You’ll start to answer his question, but he’ll interrupt you and tell you what he did in the summer when he was a 12 year old.  He’ll go on and on about his amazing adventures and all of his friends.  He’ll look over and see that your mom has dinner ready.  He’ll say, “Well, it looks like I better get out of your way so you can eat dinner.”  He’ll leave, and after you close the door, you’ll look at your mom and say, “He never let me finish telling him what my summer plans are.”
  • You’ll ask your narcissistic dad if he might be able to help you with some of the costs of golf.  He won’t answer you right away.  A few days later he’ll send you a text explaining that he has some money for you if you want to come by his work and pick it up.  You explain that you have a job mentoring younger golfers and that you can’t find time to get to his work place.  He’ll drive to your house, a few hours later.  He’ll leave the car running, come to the door with a six-year-old’s pouty expression on his face, hand you some money and leave.  He won’t ask of your day.  He won’t ask about your sister.  He won’t ask you what it’s like to mentor young kids on the golf course.
  • Later, your narcissistic father will send a text saying, “I guess you are just too busy to be with me.”

 

Your mom will say, “Geez, earlier this week, it looked like he was trying to get along.”  Your mom has forever wanted to believe that he is trying.  She’ll tell you that he had a difficult childhood and he didn’t really learn how to love.  You’ll want to roll your eyes because you are tired of hearing that excuse.

Your sister will laugh and say, “What can we expect, it’s Mercury in Retrograde.”

You’ll ask, “Can we still blame it on Friday the 13th or the Full Moon?”

Your mom will say, “Nice try.  I dared to hope that he might actually be trying to change.”

 

The three of you will burst out laughing.  Your mom will say, “We are so silly for thinking he might be trying to change.  People change.  Narcissists don’t change.”

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21 comments

  1. Exactly why the civil nature of emails lately makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck! (Settlement conference is in a month)

  2. Z,

    Yeah. I usually feel that hair stand up on the back of my neck right before the other shoe drops.

    Maybe it’s Mercury in Retrograde.

    Maybe it’s because we are sloshing through our 6th day in a row of rain.

    Maybe I’ve finally reached my limit.

    I’d like to tell him to F off. Loudly.

  3. Doooo itttt!!! haha. At least out of kids’ earshot and only to the world. You will feel better. I tend to let mine out when alone in the car screaming Jar of Hearts or Zombie. People probably think I am right off my rocker. :/

  4. Nope–not ever!! When nice-beware–when discarding–remember it is not about YOU!

  5. Z,

    I did. While I was cutting grass.

    Several times.

    Ah……..

  6. Lynn,

    Could we put that on a shirt or a card or a fridge magnet?

    Those are Survivor/Thriver words to live by!

    When nice – beware!
    When discarding – it is NOT about YOU!

    Thank you!

  7. It’s really something past selfishness. It’s as if they cannot function if everything isn’t about them. Just, literally, can’t get through the day. It’s a marvel to watch, really. The level of it never ceases to amaze me, though I should be immune to it by now.

  8. Sandy,

    I love observing them in conversations with others. It’s humorous to see how they can so quickly shift a conversation – any conversation – back to something about them, even if they have to lie in order to create a connection between what was said and how that pertains to them.

  9. Or have carefully crafted their ‘groupies’ so they don’t have to work so hard at redirecting the conversation to themselves. If they are not getting the attention they need, a groupie will step in and provide it. I am still amazed at how well they can create those circles for themselves.

  10. Z,

    Funny, I was just thinking about that recently – wondering how those few individuals can still be so duped by the N. Perhaps they have no need to go deeper in their relationship with him? It mystifies me.

  11. Even into their 40s! I thought we all got wiser. ha.

    But that’s the thing. I think the superficial crowd-pleaser is easy to like at arms length. He is the life of the party if for no other reason than to talk about his crazy outfit (and how he is the only one they know that can pull it off…ummm…hello! That is because no one else would be seen in it!!!). He seems nice enough and he may have even helped someone else out from time to time. However, do not think he did it selflessly…it was all to build himself more praise and a bigger fan base in case another ever catches on to the game.

    They don’t understand why him telling them that their lives need to change by doing x, y, and z is NPD. They don’t understand that his wife left him because he violated every expectation of marriage and family life. They accept that she is crazy and treats him badly because they don’t know her. They don’t know that he did the things he accuses her of or the frivolous court cases he continues with.

    They don’t really know him.
    They know the illusion of him.

  12. Z,

    I got shivers at, “… he may have even helped someone else out from time to time.” That’s the slimiest ever. When they do something philanthropic but it’s only to bolster their image. I hate that.

  13. Me too. I know I have mentioned this before, but with the N, ‘favors’ he does for his ‘friends’ are in the same category as having a library named after him and a foundation for poor children’s education in the 5 year plan.

    I couldn’t, no realllyyy COULDN’T, make that up!

  14. Z,

    Another parallel. A revolting example of how they play from the same script. Gag.

  15. Oh jeez. I have a zillion of incidents like these, just replace “Dad” with “Mom.” One of my favorites: I went on a trip to Italy in my 20’s, she fed my cats while I was gone. So I called when I got back, Hi Mom, I’m home. I didn’t even get the four words out of my mouth when she launched into the story of HER week. For half an hour.

    Finally she gets to the end of the story, and I start to say something like, well Rome was nice, and she cuts me off to start reprimanding her cat for jumping on something.

    So I said, thanks for feeding my cats, and hung up.

    It’s not nice to know other people have to put up with this kind of thing, but at the same time, it is such a nice feeling to know we’re not alone. It takes the sense of “what did I do wrong?” out of it. It’s THEM. All of it.

  16. With regard to Zaira’s comments, “… he may have even helped someone else out from time to time.”

    This was a very common ploy I saw, the public volunteerism as an attention-getting ploy. My mom pulled this one a lot: she was always available to foster a litter of kittens or some stray cat, many of whom took up permanent residence with her. (She had 8 cats at one point.). But when I was trying to re-home a pair of my cats – who I desperately wanted to keep but there was a narcissist husband involved – she kept them for a very short period and then called to say she was giving them to an abandoned animals sanctuary because she “just couldn’t keep them.”

    I had a similar situation with an apartment I lived in – I found myself in a dangerous situation and needed someplace safe to go, but Mom wouldn’t take me back because my cats were “a problem.” But a year or two later, she was having trouble paying the bills, and my cats were not an issue, they were “delightful.” She even wanted to keep one of them when I moved out again.

    Gah – I could go on and on and on and …

  17. J,

    Yes! Say it loudly and often – “It’s THEM!”

    Have you ever sat on the other end of that phone conversation, where if someone was in the room with you, all they’d hear from you would be, “Uh huh, yes, mm hm, yep, right… ” and then you hang up and say, “I’m fine. Thanks for asking.”

    I’ve done that several times. It feels good. Not sure why.

  18. J,

    Keep going. We can relate. ;)

  19. Oh boy. How many times have I had my side of the conversation after hanging up? I couldn’t count.

    “Rome was great, mom, thanks for asking.”

    It’s part of why I simply don’t call anymore. It’s not a conversation, it’s me listening to her monologue. What’s funny is that after several years of not speaking to her, she doesn’t change her tack – she just emails randomly here and there with a similar monologue. Only the subject changes.

    The subject is not the problem, mom.

    I do not envy you, Jesse, having to continue to interact with these people because of all the continued family ties. I found it too difficult – you must be very strong.

  20. It’s THEM!
    I can still remember the tidal wave of relief I felt when I left him. It was HIM all along. All of a sudden I didn’t have a problem keeping up with housework or laundry or the kids. I had enough emotional energy to deal with his bs because it wasn’t daily (some days it is still harder, like around court dates, but I have reserves now). The silence in the house, my house, dissipated and the elephant left the room. We could be OURSELVES. Raw, emotional, tired, cranky, hungry, loving, caring, family that we were. At the end of the day, there was never any doubt that we would still love and care for each other no matter how sucky it was.

    It’s THEM! Yep, we get it, go on…

  21. J,

    “The subject is not the problem” – you said a mouthful there. ;)

    I don’t know if I’m strong. Most days I feel numb.

    If nothing else, my kids learn compassion, understanding, and what it’s like to listen and reciprocate in a healthy relationship from what NOT to do!

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