It’s Narcissist Friday!
For this post, I want to define “family” in a broad way. Not trying to be politically correct, just aware that those who have the position of family in our lives may not necessarily be related to us by blood or law. So, feel free to include your close friends, your extended family, and others you respect and/or love in this definition.
The narcissist sees your family, other people important in your life, in the same way he sees everyone: as tools, toys, or obstacles. It doesn’t really matter if the narcissist is your spouse, your boss, your pastor, or your friend. Your narcissist will use or treat the people in your life in much the same way as she treats you.
Many victims of narcissism dread the holidays. Narcissist boss will probably assign more work over the holiday. N friend will probably call “just to talk” while you are trying to get things ready for your family. N spouse will either dominate the time or refuse to participate, whatever works to put the focus on him. The narcissist cannot abide the idea that your attention would go to someone else. It doesn’t matter that your kids are home from college. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t seen your parents in a long time. It doesn’t matter who has died or who is dying. It isn’t about them.
Remember, the narcissist does not see people in the same way the rest of us do. To him people are simply part of the environment. Some are resources; some are in the way; some are just there. The only real thing the narcissist wants from people is their admiration. Your family should fall down at his feet and worship.
If they do not worship him, then they are competition for your worship of him. He may actively seek to stop you from gathering with them. He may be cruel or obnoxious so they will stay away. He may become the victim himself to keep your attention on him. Whatever it takes.
As I write this, the Dear Abby column for the day (4-4-12) has a letter from a woman who is torn between her friend and her husband. Both are graduating on the same day and far enough apart so she can’t attend both ceremonies. Her friend wants her to skip out on her husband’s graduation. This is narcissistic behavior. The friend wants to be more important, wants her day to be recognized above that of the husband. Never mind that this is the husband! Family is just in the way.
Many narcissists mock the family of their victims. They make fun of your family in order to remind you that they are superior to your family. You would be better off paying attention to your narcissist. They mock the love and loyalty of family.
But, to be fair, many narcissists feel the same way about their own families. In fact, some narcissists are cruel toward and distant from their family members. They hate being reminded that there are people who know some of their secrets, their failings and fears. They hate the assumption of relationship and rights that family has. They hate the fact that some people refuse to be twisted by their manipulations.
So what do you do? The answer again lies in boundaries and the necessity of maintaining a distance between the narcissist and your identity. Maybe he doesn’t want to go to your parents’ for the holiday. Go without him. Maybe your friend does call during the event. Don’t answer the phone. Maybe your boss does assign more work that weekend. Do what you can and don’t do what you can’t. Stay in charge of who you are. Don’t even do what I say, just do what you want or need to do.
And accept the fact that you will pay a price. The price to maintain close relationships with family and friends will be the narcissist’s anger and manipulations. Yes, it will hurt sometimes, but you must keep those relationships active. It is classic behavior for narcissists to separate their victims from the support in their lives. Your family, however you define it, is your support. Don’t lose it or you may lose yourself.