Posts Tagged: all about me

Jun 10

The Narcissist’s Instincts

I woke to the sound of our cat crunching on her breakfast.  We buy her the good stuff.  I’m sure that’s why she’s so nice to us.  Then I heard her claws click across the hardwoods as she made her way down the hall and across my bedroom.  I heard the pause  before she jumped on my bed.  She snuggled in for a morning nap after filling her belly.  My bed sets beside a sliding glass door that looks out on the Poplar in the back yard.  Just as the cat closed her eyes, I saw a Robin land on the shed roof next to the Poplar.

I don’t know how my cat saw the Robin with her eyes closed.  There wasn’t a sound to alert her.  Her body tensed, her hair stood on end, and she started making that chattering sound that cats make when all-systems-are-go, and there’s a victim to be trounced upon.  Her instincts kicked in.  She went from full belly/drowsy eyes to ready to pounce in 2.3 seconds.

That is the power of instinct.

I didn’t babysit much as a teenager.  I wasn’t interested.  I didn’t want to hold babies.  Truth is, I was afraid of babies and their needs and their vulnerability.  I didn’t think they were particularly cute, and they smelled weird.

As I got older, I got to a place where I actually wanted a baby.  It was a foreign concept and a new feeling for me.  I felt this longing, but I couldn’t conceptualize why I wanted this thing that I hadn’t been interested in.  I won’t go into the clock ticking and the insatiable hunger and that stuff.  It was just this low-grade hum that kept telling me, “You want this.  Your life isn’t complete without this.” Continue reading →

May 10

Beauty Through the Act of Loving

imperfect-beautyYesterday’s post was about beauty and insecurity and denying who I am.  It was a difficult post to write.  I’m not even sure where it came from.  Getting that necklace in the mail was akin to jamming a stick of dynamite in a dam that I didn’t even know existed.  Feelings, emotions and tears started flowing, and they weren’t going to stop.  Apparently, they haven’t stopped yet.  I’m not done with the topic, and I’m convinced that this flood is sending me further down the path that I’m supposed to be on.  The tidal wave of emotions is pushing me faster, and I’m not afraid.  In fact, I can’t wait to see how far it takes me.  This is another exercise in authenticity and speaking truth.  Both of those expressions are over-used.  But if we set out in search of those things, with integrity, the pursuit of authenticity and truth gets us closer to who we are meant to be.

warning:  I took a challenge to write 2500 words today.  I’ve never struggled with coming up with the words.  I usually cut myself off in an effort to make my post more manageable (less tiresome).  This will be LONG.  Get a cup of tea, a glass of wine, or a milkshake, or skip it all together and haunt one of your favorite, less wordy sites.

So in response to my ‘beauty’ post, I got some warm, loving, complimentary comments from dear friends and dear family.  I didn’t want it to appear that I was writing that post to fish for compliments.  I guess I’m a better fisherwoman (why isn’t fisherwoman in spellcheck?) than I thought.  (I can cast a fly line pretty well, but I never catch much.  I can put a worm on a hook, but I’m usually busy sipping my beer, and I don’t see the tug on the pole.)  The comments were extraordinarily nice, and they made me very uncomfortable, just as any kind of compliment has always made me uncomfortable.

And as I was responding to my intelligent, beautiful cousin this morning the pistons in my still sleepy brain fired and I was hit by another thought.

(‘Beautiful’ and ‘intelligent’ are descriptors for all the women who commented on my post yesterday.  Thanks Mom, Donna, Lucy, Kate and Jessica.  I’m sure these apply to Jessica, even though I don’t know her well.  Yet.  Just as they apply to all the women that I am proud to know.) Continue reading →

May 10

homekeeping 4

I still have to pack, but my toes are painted, fake tan is applied, kids’ hair is cut, the single plant that we do have is watered, and the fridge is empty.

It’s time for vacation.  Even the very word, ‘vacation’, is delicious.  Just saying it makes the tightness in my shoulders melt.  The minute it rolls off my tongue, I swear I can smell sunscreen and feel sand in the waist band of my swimsuit.

Not taking my laptop means I’m not taking the blog with.  It sorta feels like leaving one of my kids behind.  Jen and Will are delighted that I won’t be hiding behind a computer screen.  They are unbelievably supportive of the time and attention I devote to the blog.  But it’s time that they get all of me for a few days.

We can’t head off without updating you.

__________ Continue reading →

May 10

Trail Guide

“I’m afraid that whatever I write will make this worse.”  That was the start of Jenny’s assignment today.  Yesterday afternoon, the counselor called to set up an appointment for a Friday session with Mark and the kids.  She asked that we agree to have Mark pick the kids up and take them to the appointment.

Will and Jen are not at all thrilled about riding to the appointment with Mark.  I think the lack of contact has made them even more uncomfortable with their dad.  I can see why the counselor wants them to ride with Mark.  She wants to see what the kids are like, when they aren’t washed in my influence.  And I agree with her.  Even though I’m trying to be very diplomatic with this process, they will pick up on my energy.  We are too tight for that not to happen.

Will is currently penning an 11 year old’s version of  The Grapes of Wrath.  He hasn’t taken any breaks to ask for a cup of coffee or swing a club.  He has completely embraced this assignment.  His paper starts with, “What Bugs Me About My Dad.”

I wanted to help them vent their frustrations by turning this into a home school project.  They’ll have more material to discuss at the counseling session, and hopefully they will be able to unload their hearts a bit.  Perhaps this assignment will calm them and guide them during tomorrow’s appointment.

They’ll head back into Narcissism Country with their own trail guides.  I’m going to cover them in body armor and stick little virtual spray cans of mace in their hands. Continue reading →

May 10

Hiking in Narcissism Country

It’s a bad idea to walk through rattlesnake habitat in flip flops.  It isn’t advisable to hike through grizzly territory with bacon tucked in your back pocket.  Children should never be left unattended in mountain lion country.

Once, even though I knew better, I walked through a dry, stubble field in Teva Sandals.  The one time I did, I came within 6 inches of a rattlesnake.  I was lucky, but there’s no excuse for not being prepared, for not using my brain, for being cavalier about what could be lying in wait.

The same goes for narcissism.

I am chin deep in narcissism country.  I know the game switches with each conversation.  I know his attempts at manipulation.  I know how he contradicts himself, sometimes within the same sentence.  I know when he has set a trap.  I know how charming he can be.

The least I can do is keep my wits about me.  I would be foolish to ever let myself forget how the ground shifts in Narcissism Country.  Hikers must always take enough provisions, and familiarize themselves with any potential wildlife threats. Continue reading →

May 10

Update on the Counseling Process

We haven’t heard a word from Mark.

The kids and I talked over the weekend and came up with a proposal.  We wanted to suggest a visitation schedule that we could live with.  Mark has indicated that he would like to see them more frequently.  The kids say, “Absolutely Not.”  We think we’ve come up with something to appease Mark.  We hope that he will see that a few visits are better than nothing at all.

See?  There we go hoping again.

Yesterday morning I called Mark and ended up leaving a message.  I selected what I hoped sounded like an encouraging/positive voice.  I told him that we were looking forward to talking to him after his counseling session – which was yesterday.  I asked him to please call us so that we could discuss how to proceed from here.

I called again in the afternoon.  No answer.

Now what? Continue reading →

Apr 10

Being Heard

It feels like complete acceptance, total respect, absolute acknowledgment and warmth all wrapped into one big bear hug.  It’s not the first time I’ve been heard.  I have amazing family and friends who have supported me and believed me about NPD and it’s effects on my family.  Even so, there was always a glimmer of doubt that perhaps I had been clinging so desperately to the belief that my ex was a narcissist, in a vain attempt at making sense of a messed up marriage.

The validation that comes with speaking to a professional –  someone who understands personality disorders –  is an entirely new level of understanding.  And prior to yesterday’s visit, I’d been to two other counselors who had completely dismissed me.

I had decided to not play the narcissism card right off the bat.  I had a lot of time to present a picture of the history of my relationship with Mark, from the time we first started dating.  I included my observations about the boys from his previous marriage and how I had assumed, based on what Mark had told me, that his relationship with them was strained because of his ex-wife’s influence.

I tried my hardest to leave out emotion, name-calling (that was really hard) and nit-picking.  I presented clear-cut examples of bizarre treatments and behaviors.  I told her how Mark announced when Will was 6 weeks old, that this family thing wasn’t for him.  I told her how the kids weren’t allowed to makes messes in his house.  I told her how he would remove himself from conversations if the talk didn’t center on him.  I told her about the insidious picking and critiques of Will and Jen’s hair styles, wardrobes and choice of hobbies.  I told her how I kept trying, after our separation, to come up with suggestions of what Mark and the kids could do together.  I told her that I opened my house to him for visits, even after learning about “the incident”.  I told her about how the kids refuse to call him on his behavior because of potential repercussions.

Periodically, she would look at me in total dismay.  Several times, as she was writing fast and furiously, she would say, “Wait.  Back up?  What did he say?” Continue reading →

Apr 10

Humpty Dumpty and Jack

I brought a fresh cup of coffee to my 8:30 counseling session with my blog today.  Seems life continues to hand me more fodder for ‘Surviving Narcissism’.  This is where I get to use expressions like, “The proof is in the pudding”, “It’s time to take the gloves off”, and (hopefully), “He never knew what hit him.”

I’m using ALL the narcissism tags for this post.

Mark didn’t get to spend a lot of time with the kids this last weekend.  Grandma and Grandpa returned from wintering in Arizona, and the kids needed some serious spoiling time.  So when Mark called Monday night, I wasn’t surprised to hear his characteristic what-about-me, martyr voice.  He said, “You have told me to make them a priority, and when I try to see them, they are too busy with your folks.  How am I supposed to fit into their schedule?”  I explained that they hadn’t seen grandma for four months, but that they would be available on Tuesday afternoon.

What I wanted to say was, “I asked you, 11 years ago, to make Will a priority.  That’s one helluva ‘To-Do List” you’ve got there.  You’re just now getting around to making them a priority?”

Three hours into Tuesday’s visit, I walked out to the front yard with my new spine-enhanced posture and said, “We need to cap these visits at three hours.  I don’t like being held hostage in my own house.”  He sarcastically said, “I would love to have these visits at my house.”  I reminded him that the visits at his house would be three hours in length (no over-nighters) and would include both kids at the same time.  He frickin’ asked me why the kids wouldn’t be allowed to spend the night. Continue reading →

Apr 10

As The Narcissist’s World Turns

Dammit.  I don’t really want to write about this.  I so want to be done with all of this.  It is more of what I’ve already written.  It is more of what others have already written on the subject of narcissism.  But I have made a commitment to myself, and ultimately, to anyone who takes the time to read this blog – that person who, in the middle of the night, when sleep won’t come, desperately searches the internet in hopes of finding answers.  This is for those who still cling to the possibility that things could work out, that hope and goodness will prevail.

I have to write for them.

It started Sunday morning when the kids opened their in-boxes.   Mark wrote them each an email.  In Will’s email, he explained that I had indicated that Will would be calling.  Mark twisted things around, again, and made it sound like we were wanting the dust to settle, and would get in touch when we were ready.  He forgot the part about the kids expecting initiative and change on Mark’s part.  Mark’s email to Jen sounded like he was picking up where he’d left off, and that nothing had ever happened.

So…  the kids wrote emails saying they did not want to see him until he made it clear that he was ready to treat Jen like she’s seven years old, and that he demonstrates to Will that he is ready to make Jen and Will priorities.  The kids were pretty agitated that Mark would expect that he wouldn’t have to do anything, and that everyone would pick up where things had been left.

We’ve seen this too many times. Continue reading →

Apr 10

Mexican Salad and ‘The Good Witch’

mexican-saladWhat is worse – having a narcissistic father that fights for custody and makes the kids’ lives miserable on a daily basis, or having a narcissistic father who wants nothing to do with his children, if they won’t do things his way?  I think Will and Jenny have it better.  While they will certainly be hurt by the fact that their dad can so easily walk away, they won’t have to deal with the day-to-day dismissals of who they are.  They won’t have Mark belittling them or using them as extensions of himself.

In Mark’s lengthy email, he had asked me what I proposed as a solution to this problem – like he’d actually entertain any of my suggestions.  He hinted at the possibility of resorting to calling lawyers again, and forcing visitation.  I speculated that things would go something like this:

  • He wouldn’t call the attorney because, after himself, and above all else, money is the most important thing to him.  Attorneys cost money.
  • He would not agree to adapt his behavior in an effort to have a better relationship with these two precious people.
  • I guessed that he would not address any of the kids’ requests.  I was pretty convinced that he’d tell them he was trying his best and that he loved them.  Then, as per usual, he would not call a couple days and wait for the dust to settle.  Then, on about the fifth day of no contact, he’d call, and with his sing/song voice, he’d invite them to do something, pretending like nothing had ever happened.

I did not guess that he would walk away from his kids.  I did not let myself believe that he was as low as he apparently is.  I did not see that coming, even though I have written about the fact that, if the accommodator stops being the source, the narcissist will completely dismiss her, and search for a new source.  And there lies the trap in all this.  As schooled as I may think I am in all this narcissism stuff, there is still something (frickin’ Lizard Brain) that makes it hard to comprehend that another individual – someone I thought I knew, and loved – is capable of such things.

__________ Continue reading →

Mar 10

homekeeping 2

talent-stampsI don’t like watching people eat live, slimy, crawling insects.  In the old days, I watched the reality TV show, Survivor, with Mark.  I haven’t checked out a reality show since.  I’m not a snob.  I just don’t get the fascination.  Actually, I liked the part of Survivor where the contenders talked about their families, and I did like watching the dynamics of the groups at play.  With each new season, it seemed to be less about interacting and more about eating creepy crawly things, so I lost interest.  That being said, I’ve noticed that this blog strongly resembles reality TV.  At least I’m sparing you the bad clothes and the smelly bathroom details.

I started this blog as a way to vent, and then process.  Jen, Will and I were developing, and still are developing, some great tools for dealing with narcissism.  First, it was about dealing with their dad’s narcissistic behaviors. The blog continues to be about their relationship with their dad, and ultimately my relationship with their dad, since you never really come to the end of a relationship with an ex.  /:(

More recently, this blog has also been a significant tool that helps me figure out how to be in a healthy relationship, or least what I need to change about how I have been in relationships.

I have an image of this blog representing a tunnel.  It’s a pretty dark tunnel, but it isn’t damp or cold, and we have each other.  The kids and I are making it through this tunnel hand-in-hand.  More than once-in-awhile, there are portholes in the walls of the tunnel.  They shed some light on our path.  These portholes are the tools that we’ve gathered – good words and small practices that we do in a day to help us stay positive.  The portholes are also all the encouragement from those who comment and those who support us in our daily lives.

There is a faint sound in this tunnel.  I think it comes from the end.  It sounds like a breeze rustling leaves on trees, and birds fluttering and chirping, and a creek running nearby.  It sounds like a great place to be.  The three of us want to get there.  We are making steady progress.  Just ask Donna. She sent me this note a couple days ago. Continue reading →

Mar 10

Homeschooling and Wasbands

Do you remember the classic “Far Side” cartoon by Gary Larson that has the funky woman talking a blue streak to her dog, and it shows what the dog hears?  The dog only hears, “blah blah blah blah, Ginger.  blah blah blah blah, Ginger.” It’s 2:30 and I can’t sleep.  I got up to write and was greeted by a 1500 word email that was written by Mark.


At the risk of further cementing my membership in the loosely knit  Association of Homeschooling Weirdos, I have to tell you what I most love about this homeschooling business.  There is nothing quite like being there when they first grasp a concept.  I get to be there when that light bulb goes off, and they understand what’s in front of them, and they are filled with pride and possibility.  It’s like the looks on their faces when they learn to tie their shoes or ride a bike.  It’s something I don’t want to miss.

A few weeks ago, I was helping Will with fractions.  I love math.  I love the fluidity and fuzzy boundaries of dealing with people and relationships.  But when I’m in over my head with that relationship crap, I like to turn to something certain, like math.  Even Will says he likes math because, “There’s one right answer.”  Sometimes it’s nice to know there is ONE right answer.  So we were adding different fractions with different denominators and I was explaining that you have to “get the fractions speaking in the same language – in the same denominator.”  I have a decent understanding of what their learning styles are, and what approaches work best for helping them learn.  But, I was having a bit of a struggle with the fractions.  I put my pencil down, walked out into the living room to take a deep breath, and figure out a new approach, and I came back with a new angle.  Suddenly the light bulb went off, and he whizzed through the rest of the exercise.  It was fun for both of us.  We found a common language, and it was a thing of beauty.

NEWS FLASH:  There is NO common language with a narcissist. Continue reading →

Mar 10

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. Continue reading →

Mar 10

Another One Last Try

“Jenny will not go skiing with you tomorrow unless you promise to not talk to her in the baby voice.  She asked me to call you and she needs you to promise.  Can you do that for her?”

Tuesday afternoon found Mark over for another visit.  The weather was nice.  They threw the football and played on the swings at the park.  They seemed to enjoy each other.  Mark and Will came in the house to ask if it would be okay for the kids to go skiing with their dad on Wednesday.  I knew I was staring at a potential disaster, but until the kids could tell me that they didn’t want to go, I wasn’t going to stand in the way.  My only comment was that Mark would have to ski the gentler runs all day because of Jen’s ability.  He said, “Well I haven’t been able to ski with my little girl all year, and I really want to see how she’s doing.”  Of course that sounded like he’s been wanting to ski with her, but really the three of us know that he hasn’t skied with her because he prefers the more challenging stuff.

Jenny still remembers the one time we saw him up there this year.  He asked if he could ski a run with us because he wanted to see how Jen was progressing.  She got very excited.  We got off the chair lift, waited for Mark, she made three turns and he yelled, “Good job, Honey.  Don’t forget to lead with your toe.  I’ll catch ya later.”  And he found a cut off that led to a black diamond run.  Jen asked me where he went.  I was stuck telling her that he chose to go down a different run.

Just this week I read a post on Kelly Diels‘ blog about how you can’t teach people how to treat you.  I never have had any luck with that.  But when it comes to my kids, I have to do something.  And since I can’t tie their dad up, and drag him behind my car down the nearest county road, I thought I’d try teaching him.  One more time.

So I made the call, explained that Jen didn’t want to go skiing, but that if he could promise to talk to her like the grown up little girl that she is, she would reconsider.  And he said, “Well, she’s my little girl and I love her.” Okay.  I know that.  I gave him some more time to think about it.  He didn’t offer anything, so I said, “Do you think you can put aside the baby voice tomorrow?”  He hesitated and said he would try. Continue reading →

Mar 10

Proof That I’m Not a Narcissist

I’ve been trying to find an emoticon that equals “heavy sigh”.  Yesterday was a wicked day for Will and Jenny.  After some serious triage; administering Cheetos and fudge bars and a large dose of junk TV; I tucked them in their beds.  I will be spending the day focusing on repairing the damage to their egos and reminding them that life is also very funny even when it pisses you off.

However, I must tell you that I do have further proof that I AM NOT a narcissist.  I just got out of the shower and accidentally caught a full glimpse of my naked back side.  Trust me.  I would not do that on purpose.  And this flash went through my head, “That must be what my grandpa saw when my grandma got out of the shower.”  And immediately I was filled with love, sympathy and compassion for my grandpa.  That’s real empathy.  A narcissist can’t do that.

I am going to tend to my bruised children now.  And I’m going to squeeze in 37 walks up the hill at the park, in an effort to erase that vision of my grandma’s back side.  Is it too early for a shot?