Kinds of People

It’s Narcissist Friday!

 

Someone reposted this on Facebook a while back:

“When I was using, there were 2 kinds of people…People who were in the way of my using, and people who helped me use. Now, there are still 2 kinds of people… People who are in the way of my recovery, and people who help me in my recovery.” 

facebook.com/rightfromtherooms

 

I have no idea who made the statement, or why, or even what that person meant by it. Yet, I am sure they meant for it to be a positive statement about addiction. I can imagine that the person who reposted it thought it was a great statement of conviction and moving ahead. But it doesn’t seem to indicate that there has been much of a change in perspective.

In fact, I read this as a statement a narcissist might make about his or her attempt to change. It suggests that people are there to be used. During the addiction, people were either tools or obstacles. During the recovery, people are still either tools or obstacles. Either useful or not—that’s how people are categorized.

Addicts use people. We understand that. They push and pull their loved ones and friends and acquaintances as far as the relationship will stretch and sometimes just beyond that. But the addiction drives them. They see no one and nothing other than their need. Fortunes, marriages, health, family—all have been sacrificed to satisfy the addictions. Too many know this too well.

What isn’t widely understood is that narcissism is an addiction as well. The image is just as much a focus for the narcissist as cocaine is for the “snowbird.” To get the next word of praise or submission or service, to avoid the next criticism or expectation, the narcissist will spend money and sacrifice relationships.

Some of you will remember the name of Sam Vaknin, who wrote “Malignant Self-love.” As a self-proclaimed narcissist, he has some interesting perspectives on the problem. I wrote about him in a post entitled: The Open Narcissist. Here’s what he went through before he began to understand his problem:

“‘Malignant Self-Love – Narcissism Revisited’ was written under extreme conditions of duress. It was composed in jail as I was trying to understand what had hit me. My nine years old marriage dissolved, my finances were in a shocking condition, my family estranged, my reputation ruined, my personal freedom severely curtailed. Slowly, the realisation that it was all my fault, that I was sick and needed help penetrated the decades old defences that I erected around me.”

The struggles of the narcissist are very similar to those of the drug addict, perhaps with a couple of notable differences. First, the struggle of the narcissist likely began at a very young age, unlike the addict, and by the time an adult relationship is established, the narcissist is quite hardened. Also, the narcissist does not have a physical addiction and can learn to make changes in how he/she relates with others. This may seem to minimize the problem, but narcissists seem to be more culpable, more responsible for their decisions concerning others.

So both the addict and the narcissist see people in the light of their addictions. Others are to be used. There can be no other purpose for a relationship. No other focus within the relationship. No other focus in life.

But what happens when a narcissist sees that he has problems and wants to change? Now, instead of using others to make himself feel good about himself, he wants to be a “better person.” And those around him are supposed to help. They are supposed to be patient and gracious and forgiving. If they are not, if they place more expectations on him than he desires or if they exhibit anger, then they are in the way of his “recovery.”

So those in relationships with narcissists will hear things like: “I am doing my best. Why aren’t you helping?” Or “I know I have a problem. I need your support, not your criticism.” Or even, “I am doing my part, how about you doing yours?” The other person was supposed to help worship the image before, now they are supposed to help the narcissist get “better.” Anyone who does not help becomes responsible for the problem. In other words, now it’s your fault he is a narcissist.

You see, there are more than two kinds of people in the world. There are people who have no desire to enter into the drama of the narcissist. There are people who simply don’t care about the narcissist’s needs or desires. They didn’t create the problem and they aren’t interested in helping solve it. There are others who have been so beat up that they have nothing more to give. They don’t want to hurt, but they can’t help. Some have been so compromised, so marginalized, in their relationship with the narcissist/addict that they are no longer in a position to help. Still others have become angry and will refuse to help. There are many different kinds of people in the world.

And some of them have gotten smarter. They care, but they see the truth. This “recovery” is just another pretense, just another way for the narcissist to look good. The effort is sacrificial, the change is supposed to be celebrated, and the new person is just the old person with different words and methods.

Fairly often now I receive emails from people who identify themselves as narcissists. They ask for help in changing. They are losing their marriages or others have confronted them with their offenses. They are under pressure and want out. Every time I get one of these emails, I struggle. Usually I doubt that I can do anything to help. Sometimes I don’t think the person is really a narcissist, just another victim who identifies the worst in himself. When I do answer someone who I think might actually be a narcissist, I get no further response. I suppose that my suggestion that they let themselves hit the bottom is not welcome. They don’t really want to suffer the brokenness and humbling they will need to go through. They just want me to tell them how to get through their problem.

And what is the problem? Other people. So what has changed?

55 Comments

Filed under Narcissism

55 responses to “Kinds of People

  1. very thought provoking. I agree. It’s the externalizing of blame that seems to be at the root of this pathology.

  2. Lauren

    Excellent article Dave. It’s taken me years to see through the language of narcissists. Now it seems so clear. They just can’t hide their self-centeredness with Bible verses or flowery words. Thanks for this.

  3. Carol

    Your paragraph describing many kinds of people, as opposed to just two kinds, took my mind to a place that I don’t go to very often any more. It is a place I never want to live in again. My mind startled swirling in the mode I describe as “crazy-making” , I tried to wear many of those hats in a desire to make our marriage one that had room for both of us. And I finally removed myself from his circle by divorce. In the years that I contemplated divorce, the question was, ‘if I can’t live with him, how am I going to survive a divorce to get away from him?’ It was an 18 month battle. Thankfully, I had a wonderful support system. They could not sort out what was going on, but they respected my choice.

    I know that he has not changed. He simply positioned himself top and center of a new marriage…..

  4. Kathy

    This is truly a wonderful post — it reinforces the fact that Ns will do anything and everything to get their way, and if they fail, you are to blame.
    I received a non-apology apology from a Flying Monkey. She was apologizing for “everything I ever said to you” so that I would forgive someone else!! She apologized for HER acts (sort of) so that I would have my children (who are no longer children) re-establish contact with her father (my children’s grandfather).
    Convoluted much?
    She apologizes for herself for the benefit of someone else so that I would forgive her so that (two) someone else would relinquish the right of No Contact with someone else!!
    And when that didn’t work, I’m not a nice person because I won’t forgive her so as to allow someone else (who has never apologized) to have a relationship with others (whom I have no control over!)
    Mea Culpa ????
    She is what she is.

    • Penny

      omigosh Kathy, I just had the same thing happen to me! Must be the holidays? I always “fasten my seat belt” before, during and after the holidays b/c the Flying Monkeys are in swarming season….kinda like this:
      monkeys.jpg

      • Penny

        oops….here’s the link:

      • I keep this exact meme on my phone to give me a reminder now and again 🙂 good post spot on. Withdrawal from their drama, refusal to ‘ play ‘ is the only healthy choice.

      • Kathy

        They cut off their own noses to spite their face — they want something that they can have IF they apologize (sincerely), and yet they won’t!! My children’s grandfather would rather save his pride/ego than to have a relationship with his ONLY granddaughters!
        And somehow it’s my fault!
        The granddaughters are 26 and 20. But he must assume that I exercise the same control over my adult children that he does over his adult children — and I don’t!!
        I can forgive him. I can forgive the Flying Monkey.
        But I have no authority to forgive what the Flying Monkey for what she said to me and then force my children to have a relationship with their grandfather because of it!!
        They are just too weird.
        Not my circus!!!

      • Still Reforming

        Penny,
        That’s great. I’m saving that one.
        Narcs seem to be expert at getting everyone to dance around their desires, even when they’re obvious in their abuse. Still, the world swirls around their vortex
        I’m learning to repeat that refrain: Not my monkeys, not my circus.
        Someone else also recently told me to focus on other things when I was lamenting how a certain pastor wasn’t as genuine in his desire to protect the oppressed in the situation as he was to “save” the abuser. This person wrote to me: ” I think you are wise to not engage with him. Spend your energy elsewhere.”
        That’s all it took: “Spend your energy elsewhere.”
        Wise counsel indeed. There’s a WHOLE lot of life and a LOT of people in my life upon whom I could expend my energies with a lot more joy and peace.

      • UnForsaken

        Thanks for the good cheer, much needed after holidays!

        My N was off work for Three weeks, and so my sponge-like mom ( who always acts like the person she’s been with most often recently ) began to lash out a lot like your Flying Monkey, Kathy. She’s not an N, but she is an enabler who suffers from a lot of projection. I feel like a dog leash just tied me up. Convoluted is the word! Circular reasoning has the power of confusion.

        On the brighter side, I went back to the post on Gaslighting and can see it so much clearer now. In fact, I’ve been seeing my N and this whole situation better, thanks to some long talks about our childhood with a Loved One. After sharing a list of things to look for, to see if an abuser is capable of change, she suggested that My N is not as mild as he looks, only passive on the outside. It was encouraging to put together what was needed to prove some of this to myself, what I already felt to be true.

        Getting over the flu right now, I decided to take the beginning of February to put some more of these pieces together. It’s my prayer for 2015 to be completely open to what God may be trying to show me, no matter what the results He may have. It’s hard to remember that when the N tries to make it look like the world is coming to an end, it’s NOT. ” It’s not my circus, not my monkeys .”

  5. Ooh thanks for this one. This articulates in words a nagging feeling in my gut when all a person wants to do is “move on” and not dwell on past offenses, while somehow I’m the difficult one for still hurting, feeling further isolated by my inability to skate into the future so simply. I’m not sure what the secret is to “moving on” and “letting go” while this person still does not acknowledge the effects of their behavior, but this post does show me that their running the show with their wishes under the guise of practicing forgiveness is yet another narcissistic tactic to be wise to. It’s exhausting, this game. But I appreciate your assertiveness and critical ear, even when bad behavior is acknowledged. It’s good modeling, and it may help prevent further injury during times when defenses could be weakened by hopes of change seeming to come true.

  6. maggie

    When I read the Facebook Post I had such a typical reaction in mind and body. It read in a confusing way so I tried again but for sure it was what I read and what I have felt so many times before in recovery circles and in my own personal relationship with an N when these kind of “enlightened” moments come about and it is shared. Pastor Dave has hit the nail on the head here. All I could think of and got stuck on was that it just did not sound right but I could not articulate why, so I read on. Thank you Pastor Dave for your insight and courage to assert what a N would take such offense and opposition to. And he or she would be very articulate at convincing another of his or her profound thinking at the long end of being victimized by people. I cannot state enough how swiftly my mind and body recognized my spouse, the N, in the Facebook post well before I understood where Pastor Dave was taking this. Thank you Pastor Dave

  7. Penny

    “What has changed? ” is a great question. Obviously nothing. Narcs still “use”, but they just disguise their “drug of choice”. I recently read that if we dare ask, “HAS s/he changed?” and “WHY has s/he changed?” then maybe we can get somewhere. Narcs love to profess they have changed but they loathe to actually do so.

  8. Penny

    oops–grammar error? “they are loathe”? sorry….!

  9. Carolyn

    With a Narcissist…it is always someone else’s fault. Always. That is one of the ways you can discern if someone is truly narcissistic. It’s been ages since I have posted here, and I feel like I have come a long way in my recovery from being married and lied to for 6 years with my N. Almost 2 years post divorce…and now….even seeing his name or hearing mention of him sets my gut wrenching. The effect they have on those around them is devastating and long-lasting. Praying that the Peace of Christ fill each one of us still struggling….

    • Carol

      It took me years, literally, to realize that nothing is the N’s fault. He phrased comments and excuses so carefully, that I totally missed it! What a revelation when I could finally say to him, in a sarcastic voice, ‘I know nothing is your fault’. Interesting, as I think back, that he never responded to that comment. I guess he had to go back into hiding and retool.

      And come to think of it, my antagonistic, manipulative N sister is never wrong either. And she can quote scripture to prove that she isn’t, but that I am. As far as she is concerned, I have behaved so badly in the care of family members that (quoting a verse in Proverbs) it will take a long time for her family to once again accept me because it takes a long to rebuild a bad reputation.

    • joy

      Once during our marriage, I told my N that my job in the marriage was to be wrong, because he never was. His reply? “That’s ridiculous.” So I was wrong even about this, though even our children would comment on the fact that their Dad thought he was never wrong.

      He still does not know he is a narcissist. I didn’t either until after the divorce and I started going to a good therapist. Once I started reading about narcissism (at her suggestion) things started to make sense for the first time in the 30 years I was with him.

      Wwe were in counseling together, he professed to being trying “to change even though I think I’m a good husband.” For instance I gave him a lot of affection because that’s my nature and I loved him, and because he soaks it up, but he never returned it. I was starved for an appreciative look or word or touch. During this phase when he was ‘trying’ he started sometimes reaching over to touch me or hold my hand….but only when we were in front of an audience. It was not about how I felt, or about really relating to me…it was about swaying the friends and family to see how hard he was trying.. Because I’d had it with him and knew what he was up to, I didn’t respond well to his overtures….which made me the bad guy. Even the therapist was sucked in to his act.

      The convoluted language was confusing too. He told me after the divorce, when we were still talking a lot, that “I wish I’d made you feel like I thought I was lucky to have you.” I thought about that a minute and said, “That would have been nice, but only if it was sincere. Did you feel lucky to have me?” And he looked at me for a minute and said ” No.”

      I knew this was one of the first true things he’d said to me….at first he thought I was wonderful, but within months of our wedding, it switched to where he thought I was lucky he was was with me. I could do nothing right and was always wrong. His statement about wishing he’d made me think I was cherished really meant, “I wish I’d tricked you better, because I never realized you’d actually leave me and mess things up.”

      In my case my N never has really tried to change…he pretends to try to change, and he thinks that’s good enough.

  10. Laurie

    Do you think they will repent of the charade on their death bed? Then would it be “real”? My N’s 87 and these thoughts come to my mind. She going strong through! I pray that some day she “comes to her senses”. I have forgiven her and I just pray for her salvation. Doesn’t their hard heart become impenetrable at some point?

    • Kathy

      God can do anything — but He chooses not to violate the free will He gave us. God is not a Narcissist.
      They love to violate our free will.
      I would never be arrogant enough to say that someone is beyond hope.
      I wish you peace.

    • Penny

      Laurie–my narc is 89, and I struggle with this also. She is stubbornly unrepentant, never wrong, forever blaming others. Here is a link that helped me consider the possibility that perhaps her “foolish heart is hardened” and thus God has withdrawn His Holy Spirit & His blessing on her life:
      http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/11/03/the-abuser-as-esau-a-sobering-and-freeing-truth-for-victims/

      “While the Lord is longsuffering, His patience is not infinite. God does judge the wicked and there is a time when He withdraws from them and lets them go to their destruction.”

      So sorry, but this has been my experience. I still pray for her, but “is is a terrifying thing to fall into the hand of the Living God”. Selah….

  11. Carolyn

    I don’t know if they would ever repent…because that would mean they would have to acknowledge that what they are doing is wrong. They just don’t see it that way…they feel justified in the way that they lie, cheat, put-down, etc. I think we just have to let go and leave it between God and them…

    • Resigned to this fact

      I agree, Carolyn! I pray the “N” in my life will find the Lord, but I had to finally hand it over to His hands. Nothing I can do.

  12. Jacjacaroo@yahoo.com

    Thank you so much for your posts. I am a Christian who is choosing to persevere with another professing Christ, who I suspect is a narcissist. I love my friend dearly, I think only because I am compelled by the love of Christ. We love because he loved us first. My friend is hard to love. There is damage from childhood and big walls. Fear rises to the top for my friend and there is an innate inability to trust. God in his grace to me has given me insight and a pair of “God goggles” to see over the wall to the person there, the vulnerable one hidden away by fear….that Jesus loves and has created, beyond the narcissism. Narcissism is part of the disorder sin had created in this world but God is in the business of restoration. I find narcissism best viewed in this life from the perspective of eternity. 🙂

    Your posts help me to identify the patterns of narcissism but more than that your writing from a Christian perspective reminds me of Christ’s grace to us and that encourages me to continue with my friend. I may fail my friend but I cannot believe Christ’s love will fail anyone. Thank you for your posts. Please keep writing because it is a true ministry and may you be sustained and blessed. Thankyou.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  13. Carol

    Just a curiosity, not sure of the answer. My brilliant uncle is in his 90’s, He is a master in wording. He has never been wrong is his life. He usually directs the problem to objects, computer programs, things disappearing. He skirts around important issues he should be having with family. Instead he answers a question with another question. I am his guardian and he is becoming more unreasonable. I’d just like to get the clearest picture possible of who I am dealing with. Any comments?

    • Penny

      Carol–you’re in a tough spot, & truly have my empathy. I have been both a guardian & a conservator, & also a power of attorney & trustee. Both my husband & I have cared for several elderly family & I used to joke that “caring for an elderly parent/person is like caring for a 2 year old with money & power.” My MIL is the family narc, & I have long been her scapegoat, so finally went NC 3 years ago b/c of her unprovoked aggression & intrusion into our marriage. As a raging, malignant narc, she is a crafty, deceitful but skilled liar (who claims Christ but sits on her own throne, having made an idol of herself.) Altho elderly, she has no dementia or cognitive impairment & regularly reminded us that she is “in control”, so we let her “enjoy” being “in control” by resigning as her trustees! She believed she should control our lives too, so we withdrew, and, predictably, she went to other family members dangling money as bait, which they all took, along with her lies and manipulation. Depending on where you live, being a guardian (by definition) is a broad legal status granted by a court & usually gives you the right to make misty decisions w/o needing the consent of the person you are “guarding”. On the other hand, being named a conservator does not necessarily afford you broad rights but rather, very specific ones (ie: financial but not medical, or vice versa). A power of attorney can be both broad & limiting, and is valid only while they are living but generally useless upon death. If you have been legally named as his guardian, on paper, via a legal document, then I would encourage you to contact the attorney who drafted the document(s) to clarify your legal position, obligations & protections. This is usually not at your expense, but should be at the expense of your uncle’s estate. If your uncle is of “sound mind” (ie: no dementia or cognitive impairment) you will be in a tough spot while caring for him. Sometimes they are so stubborn that you literally have to let them “sink & drown” before you can be granted the legal power to intervene. A physician is required to evaluate/determine mental capacity, but your uncle has the right to refuse being examined. I am NOT an attorney, but only an experienced, sometimes exhausted caregiver & it is not for the faint of heart. Protect yourself, be kind to yourself, & be prepared to walk away. You always have the right to resign. Sorry, but that is the sad truth. I will pray for God’s wisdom & clarity for you.

      • Penny

        Oops–spellcheck changed “most” to “misty”–sorry!

      • joy

        “who claims Christ but sits on her own throne, having made an idol of herself”

        Thank you so much for writing this phrase. It describes my ex to a T, and I’ve been struggling with what is going on with him….he claims Christ, but sits on his own throne. He still comes to the same church as I, and I watch him and wonder what is going on in his head. At church he has an audience that he plays to….and it seems to be a game to him, though he would never admit that. I think he does it unconsciously most of the time. I say most, because I have caught him in lies about church members….lies where he stretches the truth about how close he is with friends of ours…lies he tells to me, or sometimes he stretches the truth about his friendships with others, letting others think he is close friends with someone he feels is a desirable, worthy of his attention. In reality, I’ve found he has little contact with those desirable people.

        When we separated he went from being an occasional church goer, to being there every Sunday. It’s as if church is his stage, and he is in a full on public relations campaign.

  14. Carolyn

    So hard when it’s a family member. You mention how he asks a question with another question…boy, did that ever bring back memories! Like trying to nail Jello to a tree. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good suggestions…I never seemed to have any success no matter what I tried…. 😦

  15. LoyaltoJesus

    My N husband somehow makes everything wrong he does either my fault or the fault of someone else. His memories of past events will even change so that he seems to genuinely believe a completely different narrative than the reality in a way which is not just a differing perspective – does anyone else have that experience, I find it really alarming?!

    • Penny

      Yes, it’s called “gaslighting”, a reference to the movie “Gaslight”. Pastor Dave has written about it before…here is the link:
      https://graceformyheart.wordpress.com/?s=Gas+light&submit=Search
      Its a type of “narc speak” & it’s crazy-making!

      • UnForsaken

        Thank you for this link, Penny! ❤

        LoyaltoJesus, it happens to me all the time. ❤

        Memories: Two different times he gave his testimony he told two different consecutive stories…but Before he gave either testimony, he had Both experiences. My guess is he gauged the audience. So which one is true? God only knows. He believed it at the moment, I'm sure, and they Really happened. But God is the One who knows about our salvation and when/if it happens. I do know my N has no idea how to know God's will for himself and is completely baffled at anyone else's sureness.

        Guilting: Perhaps less/more immediately alarming than a 'bad memory', but it might be more damaging for me because it is so consistent. Ns are predictably unpredictable, but they will consistently never claim to be the one to blame! It dulls our senses, until we unconsciously begin to agree. Having grown up with it, at first I thought it was just a different perspective, like you said. But everyone has to be wrong Some of the time! I had to start stating the facts to myself and putting them together to see the truth. Have faith in your own powers of judgement…..God will show you! But it still can be terribly hard to get the emotions to believe what the mind believes already. It has really helped me to counter untruth by making up a positive statement of truth ( like: " I have good judgement and it's getting better" ), and repeat it constantly until it soaks in emotionally.

        It is hard to get past their genuinely believing their own lies, but thankfully we know the One who IS Reality, and has taken away our guilt – even the guilt we deserved! Sending hugs, and hoping you Feel this. ❤

      • Still Reforming

        UnForsaken,

        I don’t know that Ns do believe their own lies. I have thought about this for years now. And it’s certainly possible, and I expect we’ll never really know if they do or they don’t. But I can say that my N (the anti-husband) has confessed that he’s lied to me, which means that in those cases, he knew he was lying when he said his lies. And he maintained those lies over months and months until finally “confessing,” but even the confession was suspect because it came at a time when I was pressed for time and I asked if he could make the confession later. Of course, he couldn’t or wouldn’t, then fessed up to the lie.

        It happened a lot – the lies. And even later in our relationship, he told me that he’s been lying since youth. I don’t know why he even told me that. I just kind of nodded in acknowledgment. I mean, what was I supposed to do with that information?

        I think Ns know when they’re lying and that what they’re saying are lies. I also think that the anger is manageable, because they are able to control it in public and only use it when they choose. I also think they don’t feel any remorse about their anger or explosions of it. I think they are deeply deeply sad and angry individuals, and my guess is that it has something to do with themselves – either they feel like they’re not getting enough (fill in the blank) from (whomever) or that they’ve been wronged in their childhood – or whatever – but it all swirls and centers around themselves.

        Just my observations from my own experience over time. Your mileage may vary. 🙂

      • Still Reforming

        Penny,
        That’s a good movie. I bought it just because of the terminology and how it applies to my anti-husband. Have you seen the flick? It’s very good. I can definitely relate to it.

    • UnForsaken

      Still Reforming, I have to agree.

      Yes, our mileage is different. Perhaps it’s the type of personalities our Ns have that make the small variations. I do believe mine knows it’s not the exact truth, but he stays very close to the real thing because his father raised him that way. He feels justified in his tales because he is trying – Ha! This makes it even harder for people to see the huge difference a not true/almost true story can make, compared to the absolute truth. The devil often tells Almost the truth, and it’s all the more convincing.

      Lying is made a BIG deal in my family for several reasons, one being that my grandmother was once married to a pathological liar. My N couldn’t get away with the usual dishonesty, so I think he came up with his own type – true to N form, always only using the tools that work. He would not quite tell the whole thing, get praised for it, and be harder on others about their dishonesty. I consider it a compliment that the only one he can pull up about us was about one of us at six years old….but he still drags it out in his rages as an example of Our untrustworthiness.

      Yeah, and anger Is manageable, a choice on their part to manipulate the way we feel and for them to feel more in control. Mine is a fairly logical person, until he loses it. Unfortunately, this is Really what he’s thinking under the poised facade. He feels no remorse because he can always find a way to justify it.

      It’s interesting how our Ns in their different surroundings do different things to cope, yet they still have so many likenesses to each other! I hope you are as far away from your anti-husband’s influence as possible! Sending Hugs. ❤

      • Still Reforming

        UnForsaken,
        Sending ((((((hugs))))))) back! ❤
        I'm not far from the anti-husband's influence YET, but that's the goal…. Don't know how much the law will allow.
        I completely understand when you write that there's a bit of truth in the lies. Those are the worst lies, because they have just enough truth to make it seem plausible what's being said. I've heard many of those too – and then it's passed off as just his "perspective" or view of things. In that sense, there may be some truth to the skewed vision of what's happened, but I know there are also out-and-out lies.
        It's a really convoluted way to live.
        I hope you have peace amidst the madness – and that you too are as far away as possible from the influence of the provocateur.
        (((((((more hugs)))))))))

      • UnForsaken

        Still Reforming, thank you for the Sweet reply!

        My N is a liar. In the midst of trying to describe the different types, I often forget to say the obvious! I believe that there are more assertive or aggressive lies and there are passive-aggressive ones. Mine is the latter N, but they are equally deceptive and quite something as a combination. Grace For My Heart’s recent reply on The Open Narcissist page describes it much better than I can. Manipulators do manipulate themselves, making it all the more confusing! My N so wants to believe what he has made up.

        Wow, you know what you are talking about! I didn’t see this kind of skewing of fact as real gaslighting until this past year. Ns want no reality but their own, for Everyone. 2014 was ” the best of times…the worst of times ” in so many ways, as my eyes opened in pain and God blessed because of it. I continue to pray for the peace you mentioned…..for all of us here……although I know it may be through worse times yet. We WILL make it!

        Like yourself, I’m still way too close to my N, and also very much in his power. But I have been amazed at how God has relieved the stress, over and over, by turning the Ns attention elsewhere when I most needed space and a chance to make choices. I’m beginning to face how bad he could be if given the opportunity, praying that God will make a way out while his focus is on other things. This verse has really helped me :

        ” Be thou my advocate and win release for me;
        true to thy promise, give me life.” Ps. 119:154 NEB

        Praying for YOU, Sister!

      • Penny

        For UnForsaken & Still Reforming: while reading your thread[s] it reminded me of something Anna V wrote on her blog several years ago, in a post subtitled “how the the narcissist makes YOU the problem”:

        “Example: a narcissist who is nurturing a grandiose vision of herself as a spiritual paragon of virtue is asked to admit that she gossiped about you. Rather than admit to being a gossip she will tell you that she only stated the truth about you and apparently you can’t handle the truth being said. Because there some truth in her gossip, you suddenly feel like you have no right to expect an apology or restitution. The narcissist successfully transfers attention from their defects of character to your alleged defects. You were disarmed because of the smidgen of truth in the accusations.

        In psychological terms, the narcissist pathologizes you in order to preserve the false grand image of themselves. In the wake of the narcissistic attack you are left feeling like you are bad. This is related to the idea of projection. You challenged their god-like and perfect image in some way, so they are compelled to transfer their unconscious sense of badness onto you in order to render themselves without fault or imperfection. This is very destructive to you.”

        As Pastor Dave has said before, the narc just wants you to shut up!

        Often the so-called Christian narc will say “well, we are all sinners”, so “we must all forgive each other”. This is NOT designed to repair the damage to the relationship but rather to restore their false image, even if it takes making YOU look bad so they can look good while being bad (aka: lying).

        Here is the link to Anna V:
        http://narcissists-suck.blogspot.com/2006/09/criticism-and-narcissist.html

      • Still Reforming

        UnForsaken,
        We have similar (anti-)husbands, as mine too is very passive-aggressive in his anger and abuse. Also knows how to include just enough truth in his twisting of things to make them plausible, yet…. off somehow. Always hard to put one’s finger on it, but like you, the Lord was gracious to reveal things to me this past year and deliver me, although full deliverance is yet to come.
        That verse is so meaningful to me. Thank you for sharing it. “Be thou my advocate; Win release for me>…” I realize with the end of the verse, it may well be referring to salvation and deliverance from judgment of hell, rightly deserved. However, I can still hope for dual application – wherein He may yet deliver me as no earthly advocate can. Yet not I, but my child. I am delivered already of sorts. ‘Tis our child about whom I have the greatest concern. I shall yet trust in the Lord for her deliverance as well. The Lord is bigger than our adversaries (the anti-husbands) who serve the Lord’s adversary, one fallen angel.
        ((hugs)) Praying for you too! For your deliverance and peace. ❤

      • UnForsaken

        Amen, Penny! Thanks for the link and Encouragement!

      • LoyaltoJesus

        After 14 years of marriage to an N I feel like I am slowly beginning to understand what has been happening. It is a complete revelation and one that I have been searching for (I thought he was autistic but knew in my heart that wasn’t quite right). It is so wonderful to not feel so alone in all of this, I was at a bible study today and an older lady talked about how lovely it is that she gets time with her husband now the kids have left – made me feel terrified just thinking about it. Am riding the current situation within reasonable boundaries for the sake of my children as I know what he would do if I left and he wouldn’t spare them. At times I hope he finds someone else and leaves – what kind of wife wants her husband to comit adultery!!!?

        Thank you everyone for sharing everything you do. It is wonderful to not be so alone.

      • UnForsaken

        Still Reforming, I’m so glad you liked the verse and it’s wonderful meaning(s) ! There are many times I’ve been reading a verse and know it means one thing, yet God shows me another aspect of it too, with a depth I never saw. Special how old things we know can become new when He opens our eyes!

        Praying for your child. My N is my father, but Anti too. The good thing is that God has used every N in my life to make me draw closer to Him. I will pray He does the same thing for the both of you. We serve a great God! ❤

  16. Needing grace

    My N has done the gaslighting bit for years! If what was said or done makes him look bad it never happened. I started a journal a year ago & try to write things down as soon as possible just to remind myself what happened. His version of the truth is so warped, but I do think he actually believes his version & remembers things differently.

    I’m currently trying to separate but it’s a messy process when young kids are involved. He’s doing everything he can to make me stay and trying to convince me he’s changed. He’s telling the kids he loves Mommy but she won’t forgive. They are left confused and scared of us divorcing. I wish it were as easy as just forgiving & forgetting. Of course, in the midst of all that the deceptions, half-truths, criticism and put-downs continue, just not as obvious as before.

    Many people have asked me how I will know if he has changed. I’ve come to realize it’s very unlikely but if true change were to happen he would be able to say something like “I know I’ve treated you horribly and I don’t deserve a 2nd chance. I’m going to give you all the time you need but I pray you can forgive me.” Instead I hear “I’ve changed, you just won’t forgive me.” Or, “you’ve said worse things to me than I’ve ever said to you. But I’ve apologized. Now can we get past this?” If you haven’t read it, read Pastor Dave’s post on the “Narcissistic Apology.” Huge in helping me realize why I didn’t feel any better after he finally apologized! It was the post that brought me to this site looking for answers.

    I continue to pray for true change but I’ve had to take steps to separate. Stress is taking its toll on me and the kids. I knew it was beyond time when my 9 year old asked why I didn’t leave him. 😞

    • LoyaltoJesus

      I pray that you and your children can find peace and safety. I’m still very confused but am clinging onto the belief that if I try and stay loyal to Jesus (whatever that means) that he will guide me and protect my children. I am a competent person with a responsible job but I cannot sort this one out.

    • Rachel K

      Dear Needing Grace,

      My 14 year old son begged me for five years to leave N husband. He began asking when he was 9, maybe at that age they begin to be aware of the unhealthy dynamic, I think boys also grow into a protective stage with their mothers.
      My husband left in February 2014 and we have had all those months to begin to heal. It has been so necessary for my son, the 14 year old, his emotional growth was harmed by N’s behaviours and he has grown so much in the time since his father left, I am sorry to say. My three younger children were harmed too and they have grown over the past months.
      Perhaps you could live separately without a formal divorce? I have entered the divorce process now after giving my husband many months to discuss finances reasonably, but He has made a financial mess and I have reason to believe he has lied about money and even defrauded me, so it needs formalising to give me control, as he is not acting responsibly. Otherwise, I would try to make informal arrangements with him.
      You need to weigh up whether leaving or staying is better for your health and wellbeing and that of your children. I will pray for your decision and your situation. I am sure you will make a wise choice.
      I have also been asked how I will know if N has changed. I say that he would need to show a very different attitude and behaviour over one or two years. If he wants to really rebuild our marriage and family he will have to make these efforts and over a period of time which is significant, just saying “I have changed can’t you see?” Is not good enough. No, I can’t see, until it starts to look permanent and is proven so by your consistent actions over a long period.
      Blessings and peace to you and yours.

    • Carolyn

      Remember, first and foremost…that N’s excel at deception. Their entire life has been built upon it. My Ex-N gave me the apology that you are looking for….and then some. I was sure that he had changed…positive that he had. I was wrong, as he was only lying to me again and telling me what I wanted to hear. Pray for wisdom and use your trusted family and friends as sounding boards, they will help you process what it true. We are too close to the situation sometimes to see things objectively. God Bless you and I pray for protection for you and your children.

      • UnForsaken

        Amen, Carolyn ! Talking about liars, I’m not sure all Ns are pathological, but you really can bet on their skill in deception. They may not Exactly lie, but use the truth, and the known conclusions people will make, to tell the lie. Crazy.

        Stay safe, Needing Grace. ❤ You are in our prayers!

    • Megan

      Needing grace, sorry to hear about your situation. I’m going through a separation and have a young daughter. I was losing it and just had to ask him to leave after an injury. He is of course trying every tactic to keep us together and has said all the right words many times, such as I am so sorry i have done wrong, it is my fault, please forgive me, im seeking help and on and on. I used to believe these words because it was what i wanted/needed to hear but it really is all about them regaining control and supply. The deception is what got me. All the secrets and half truths left me so insecure and wondering who are you?! I put up with abuse at really bad levels in the earlier days because i believed these lies and award winning apologies. Now i accept that if i were to reconcile it would be because i accept him the way he is not because i believe he has really changed. My N is also very good at behavior modification which can seem like genuine change but isn’t, so please be aware. Someone on here has said before that if there were true change we would not have any doubt.

  17. My personal opinion on narcissists that want to change is this; they perhaps got left before they were ready to make their exit. In other words they didn’t have replacement supply in place and they are alone without a punching bag. No one to bleed for them. So they crumble, they become humble and sorry and promise to change, they are like an addict who will promise anything just to get that fix, they may even mean it at the time. But the minute they have money or the drug sitting there in from of them all bets are off. With the narcissist the minute he gets you back and “helping him be human”, praising all his efforts he gets his drug and all bets are off. He goes back to his old ways and is angry at you for ever leaving and making him feel bad and he punishes you for it. On top of that he will make sure than he is never without backup supply again.
    I enjoy Sam Vaknin’s videos and I feel he shares a massive amount of useful information on narcissists but I watched a video done by the guy who made the movie and he said Vaknin was horrible to work with and he treats people like dirt.
    He says himself he is not as bad as he once was, jail taught him something but he is still a narcissist and still unpleasant to live with or deal with period.

  18. Needing grace

    Thank you for your prayers. I filed for separation due to finding out he was spending large sums of money I didn’t know we had on himself & then telling me not to keep eye doctor & dental appointments! Also found out he’s violated trust in many other ways. I tried to do it without the courts but he refused to. I’m a stay at home mom so I couldn’t just walk out the door. My youngest is young enough that I’d spend most of a paycheck on daycare. A legal separation was the only option. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done…

    Friends have supported me but none really understand the depth of this. Most are in good marriages and have no concept of life with an N.

    Thank you all for sharing your stories…you’ve been a great encouragement to me!

  19. Megan

    Wow! So true! My N husband gets angry and blames me for not ‘helping’ him or forgiving him when he is trying to be a better person, trying to get help. ‘Why can’t I just get over what he’s done and support the new him’. ‘That was yesterday’. Maybe I’m too tired, to hurt, to over it all and most of all no longer fooled and don’t want to be used anymore to play his game. I was just thinking today about the lack of shame and how unbelievable it is that they can get so angry because you won’t just support and help them after all they do. It is still the mentality of I am entitled and you should still be doing what I want. TRUE repentance and realization would be not wanting to keep using or expecting people to ‘fix’ your problem. They would take responsibility for the consequences and why people don’t want to and shouldn’t have to fix things and why this is not there problem to fix. Now that my N is again seeking help, I am supposed to trust and believe him because he says so! So i see that I am still in the same position as before. Because I am no longer willing to be involved with this I am cut off as I am not for him but against him in his mind. Your post summed things up very well.

  20. Great post, very thought provoking, thank you. I have a question that I have been thinking of and I guess I’ll ask it here. I learn from all your comments and commiserate with you. Although it’s a tough pill to swallow to know you have been chosen (by them) to be their victim of Narcissist behavior, I’m grateful to now know and can move on and live without all the drama, etc,. Back to my question, what is the difference between histrionic (disorder) and narcissism?

    • …what is the difference between histrionic (disorder) and narcissism?

      Not much! Histrionic, narcissism, anti-social, and borderline make up a category of personality disorders often called “Cluster B.” The symptoms are much the same, with just enough difference to warrant a separation. For example, histrionic tends to be addicted to attention, just like the narcissist, but acts out with drama and exaggeration. Thus the name “histrionic.” Many narcissists appear to be more in control of their drama. It isn’t that they don’t use drama, just that they use it when they want. Some narcissists use a cold or distant anger to threaten their way to control and attention. Some, the ones we call covert, manipulate in ways often not understood or even seen by their victims.

      These overlapping groups make me think of how I sort socks. Some of you might think I am a little obsessive, but I have a series of characteristics as I sort my socks. Obviously there are different colors, primarily white and black. Then there are those marked with brand names. Then there are the wide ribs versus the narrow ribs. Then the wide hem top versus the narrow hem top. Finally, there are some more worn than others. Of course, few people ever see my socks and about the only distinction that would matter to anyone would be if the colors didn’t match.

      For professionals, those small differences matter. They help to find a focus for the counseling. If you didn’t understand that narcissists will use drama to manipulate, while histrionics are more likely to view their circumstances in dramatic ways regularly, you might try the same techniques with both and you would wonder why you failed with one and not the other. However, it can take a great deal of counseling just to come to a diagnosis because the differences are so subtle. (Add to that difficulty the inclination most of them have for deception.)

      On the other hand, for those of us who are not professionals, the distinctions don’t matter as much. It isn’t as important that we get the diagnosis precise as it is for us to understand that the problem is not ours and that there are ways for us to respond to the general abuses. Since none of these disorders can be helped by medications because they are not medical problems, and all of them are thought to be the result of long-term choices in response to negative stimuli, there is little that can be done except intense and extensive counseling toward a change of thinking. And, since most of those in Cluster B will not accept that they have a problem, there is minimal success in treatment.

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