Saturday, April 30, 2011

utter despair

I spanked my daughter last night. I was so sleepy and she wouldn't go to bed, wouldn't put her PJs on, wouldn't brush her teeth the way I thought she had to, started raging and screaming, and I got angry and spanked her. I "had" to "win".

I've been apologizing all day. But I can never make it right again.

I'm so messed up and full of anger. She deserves a better mom. I loathe myself. I hadn't known I was messed up before I had kids. I thought I'd be a good mom, just like I thought I had great parents.

Iago is a malignant narcissist

"Motiveless malignity" might confuse Coleridge, who wasn't a malignant narcissist. But not us. We've seen it. Crush a person just because they seem stronger, luckier, happier, nobler. What's unclear? We're talking Narcissistic Personality Disorder. We know Iago. We were raised by him.

The dangerous narcissist

I repressed this. But now my father's away and I can focus on the narcissist that might actually hurt my family if I offend him.

I'm translating his novel again, bit by bit. I'm hoping to extend the deadline. I'm hoping to get at least some of the money I'm owed. One can hope.  

If all else fails, I have insights from the very mind of a malignant narcissist. That's got to be worth something.

Friday, April 29, 2011

HELP! A more dangerous and malignant narcissist in my life!

My father left last night. I won't see him for the next six months or so. He's sometimes frustrating and exasperating, but I believe I am at a place where I can manage him well.

So, God, or fate, or the Universe, or whoever, decides that I need another narcissist in my life, an actually dangerous character.

A year ago, I was contacted by a pleasant-sounding woman calling from a company line, asking if I'd like to translate a novel by an author who is originally from my country, but is employed at a Paris university now and is planning on publishing his novel in English as well. So I said, sure, why not?

We agreed on the price and I started translating. Slowly, things started sounding a bit off. The girl I met was nice, and she was immediately upfront about not being an official representative of a publishing company, but instead performing a favor for an acquaintance. The author had asked her to privately arrange the translation. OK, so now this means no contract, no official arrangement, as this is just not done among private individuals in my culture, especially if one of them happens to be abroad.

But I translated the first portion of the book and immediately received half the money.

Many different excuses, explanations, blaming others who "stole" the money he sent to me ensued, until I finally received the other half as well, five months later, delivered personally by an acquaintance of the author, who acted like he was performing a military operation when he rang my doorbell. Or a Mafia task directly from the boss.

The book itself was surprising, to say the least. The first portion was shocking only in that it contained a lot of inexplicable gratuitous violence committed by the narrator, who is a bouncer in Paris night clubs. But it had an interesting story and an atmosphere that would interest Tarantino.

It became apparent that the novel is quite closely autobiographical, that my author is quite possibly a violent, dangerous man, and that his "employment at a university" probably meant doorman or guard of some sort. Not that I have anything against doormen as authors, but a professor is less likely to cause physical harm to another human being, if it ever comes to that, right?

Just days after I received all the money owed me, the author called me to ask me to translate the rest of the book (coincidence? now I really don't think so).

I said OK, but only if we did it installment by installment this time, so there's no waiting on my part, otherwise there's no more translation for him. He agreed.

So I went on with the book, which I now received in its entirety (I'd only had the first 50 pages photocopied earlier). It was much longer than I could have imagined. It would be a lot of work, and yes, a lot of money, if I got paid.

This is where the trouble started. I sent the first installment of the translation and waited for a month to get paid, while the author kept coming up with crazy stories on why it is so difficult to just pay me via my bank account, as I'd requested this time (no more strange men at my door). The weirdest was insisting he'd paid at some point, but the money had to pass some clearance, so I had to wait a few days, but when it was much longer than that, then the story was that he inquired about it and the Paris post office made a mistake and now he can't get that money back! And it was my fault for insisting on going through "official channels". So he persuaded me to send another installment. More crazy stuff followed. I asked at my bank, and they told me to get a scanned proof of payment from him. He said he'd send it, then didn't. Then he asked if I'd received it. I said no. He said he'd send it again. He never did. Then he made two smaller payments via Western Union, and much later sent me proof of THAT, although that was never a problem, as these payments had got through immediately and I'd informed him of this. At one point, he had a worker at the Paris post office tell me in French that my money will arrive in due time (if it was indeed paid, which she didn't know, because she wasn't the one taking his payment!). Going to so much trouble to lie seemed excessive to me at the time, because I wasn't aware of all the wonders of NPD.

And he's one of those narcissists that use their voices! My father never was one, so I wasn't prepared for this. He would whine, then complain, then rage, then despair because I apparently thought he was a dishonest man, then rage because I apparently offended him by implying he was a dishonest man! It turned into a roller coaster and I wanted off. 

His book became progressively more disturbing as I got further into it. I had the privilege of seeing the insides of a dark, dangerous narcissist's mind. He's a knight in shining armor cruelly punishing all evil-doers, especially those that dare offend him, and everybody sees him as brave, strong, and noble. IF anyone ever says "no" to him or makes an innocent remark about how he's beating people up excessively or unnecessarily, they are to prepare for at least horrible verbal abuse, perfectly justified, in his opinion. How can all these people be so evil? There are only a few good men out there, those loyal to him and admiring him.

When I realized he was lying, when the energy I needed to invest into believing him became too much, I stopped translating. He already owes me quite a bit, so I don't owe him anything, although I'd agreed to translate the whole book and he's counting on it. After the last small payment he made, I said I'd slowed down with the translation because I wasn't sure he still wanted it, as I hadn't received the money owed me.

He started shouting at me, then complaining about his horrible life in which he was so abused and misunderstood, and then changed our agreement in an impromptu way that I was not prepared to negotiate! He said "OK then, you don't have to send me installments, just translate the whole thing as quickly as you said you would and I'll give you all the money for the whole book, all at once!"

He expects the book to be done by early July. It won't be. I could sure use that money, but I can't motivate myself to finish the book without being certain I'll actually get paid. How can I ensure that? Tell him to have someone meet me in public with an envelope and hand the disc to him at the same time as he's handing me the envelope? I don't want fishy characters near my home again!

And if I just refuse to deal with him any longer? This is a dangerous man with contacts here, and he knows my address where my family lives!

How does one deal with a dangerous, malignant narcissist?

I've been too nice to him because I was conditioned by a narcissist and he must have felt it.

With his mode of communication and his voice and his rage and my conditioning, just saying "You're nothing to me and I don't know you and I'm just performing a service for you where I expect to be paid, and if I'm not, I'm not interested" seems like an impossible task. And will he send one of his goons to hurt my family if I do say it?

According to his book, it wouldn't be the first time he's pulled something like that against someone who's "offended" him.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Another dream that only now makes sense

A couple of years ago, I had a dream that was so vivid and disturbing and felt so meaningful, but I couldn't understand its message then.

In it, I realize, to my dismay, that what I inherited from my father isn't a small apartment, but instead a huge house full of intimidating old furniture and all sorts of dusty old junk. We'd just been living in one tiny room, because that was all we could afford to redecorate, my husband and I, but then I discover the rest. Room after room after room of dark old junk. We'd never have the money or the energy to redo all that. And I didn't want to sell the entire house and just move. No, the house was somehow part of me and I knew I'd have to get to it in time. But, right now, all I could do was live in the small functional part of the house that my husband and I remodeled and seal the rest off.

I get it now. The house was me, and much in it was what I inherited from my narcissistic father. All the baggage I wasn't ready to deal with then. My marriage was the functioning haven in my life, and my husband was the support I'd have in the future in order to deal with all that, in time, when I could emotionally afford to and had the energy for it.

Well, here's to redecorating the whole house, opening it up and airing it! Here's to blogging! 

It's frustrating to find out you somehow knew all this much earlier, but couldn't tell it to yourself. Can't these dreams just send an e-mail or an sms?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


No longer running has a thought-provoking post about forgiveness on her blog. It is very difficult not to agree with her and not sound like a brain-washed mantra-repeating dimwit who hasn't truly experienced abuse and will never get it. Bowing to the narcissistic mother and acknowledging her as your superior and having a wonderful relationship with her? It's in the post, check it out. If it wasn't outrageous and infuriating, it would be hilarious.

But, see, I have a very different definition of forgiveness, which makes it a worthwhile goal at some point in the future. For me, forgiveness involves two points:

1) The person forgiving: After a period of time, which can be as long as a lifetime, where the forgiver allows herself to feel and express her anger freely and with no inhibitions, over and over again, she will hopefully come to a point where that anger no longer takes up her time and energy, which she will be free to invest in other, more pleasant aspects of her life. She will be free of her abusers. To get there, she first needs to let herself express her rage and be honest about it, otherwise it's like applying a band-aid to an infected wound.

I'm not there yet. Lately, I've allowed myself to feel and express anger for the first time in my life. I yelled curses into the air, aimed at my father. I allowed and encouraged myself to do this. I think I'm done now, and won't be doing it much more in the future, but it was necessary. I'm still in the angry phase and I'm taking my sweet time. 

2) The person forgiven: The person forgiving will not want eternal damnation for her abuser. That's all. No "that's okay", no relationship, no cutesy expressions of love, no, not even having to like that person the tiniest little bit. But, in a way, you have a real sort of love for them - you don't want eternal damnation for them.

Salvation entails facing your misdeeds, suffering for them, repenting deeply, making amends. That's what the forgiver wants for the abuser in my book. That's real love. Yes, that might not be possible with certain people, like narcissists, for example. But if you'd not mind seeing your abuser go through this, through some miracle, then you've already forgiven.

And I'm not even there yet, really. I sometimes pray for my father, but sometimes I almost relish horrible instances of his behavior because they mean I can "write him off" as a person, a human being, a soul. Now, I hope that one day I will move beyond that. But I haven't yet. And I'm taking my sweet time here, too.

(Yes, I'm religious, so this only works like this in my world, but similar things might apply for others. What do you want for yourself, but really? Want them for the abuser too. You wouldn't want to be living in a saccharine lie and sweet delusion all your life, would you? You wouldn't want to hurt the people closest to you with impunity, would you? You'd want to be fully faced with the truth of everything you've done wrong in your life and then try to make up for it, wouldn't you? Even if you know it's impossible in certain cases, just not being averse to the idea of this happening to the abuser is already forgiveness in my book. It means you have not fully condemned that lost soul trapped somewhere deep, deep down.)  

And that's it. Of course you can't have a real relationship with a person who is an abuser or a narcissist or both. Of course you can't respect or like that person. Of course you can't say "Oh, it's all fine, don't you worry, just go on enjoying your delusion of perfection." That's not forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn't equal reconciliation. There's no reconciliation with a person who is an abuser or a narcissist or both. Well, maybe, through Christ, after an eternity of purgation and change and growth and the death of the monster who ate the abuser's soul in childhood. But not in this world.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"I had not thought death had undone so many"

Sorry for the ridiculous pathos of the title. I couldn't resist it. This is line 63 from Eliot's Waste Land, alluding to Dante's Inferno, but referring to the listless crowd on London Bridge. And I've been repeating the line to myself since I realized how many wonderful souls have been so deeply impacted by narcissists, deathly blows dealt to them, left for dead, sometimes shadows of what they might have been.

Because that's what narcissists do. They suck the life out of your soul.

Amazingly, in the last month or so, I have discovered that four of my friends have parents with at least narcissistic traits severe enough to seriously impair their ability to parent. Three seem to have parents with full-blown NPD. And they had all realized this prior to having a conversation with me on the topic.

"So many,
I had not thought death had undone so many."

I'd felt drawn to these people since I met them. There was a connection. There were similarities. The cynical sense of humor defending a very sensitive person. The angst. The questioning and constant self-examination. The ruthless honesty. The burning desire to be real, to get it right, to do things right, to somehow be good, to somehow be themselves. The self-criticism and tolerance for others. The general atmosphere of living in a Kafkaesque world but wanting to be a character from Dostoyevsky in it and always despairing of failing at that.

And all of them realizing now how they had been "undone" by their narcissistic parents. And rising again, slowly, beautifully. There's a resurrection after death. Happy Easter.

Monday, April 25, 2011


My capacity for maintaining illusions never ceases to amaze me.

I haven't seen my father for a couple of weeks now (we were away) and he is going away with his girlfriend next Thursday to the summer resort where she works during the summer season. They spend six months out of each year there. So, he won't see me or his granddaughters before October. The Big Girl will be almost five. The Baby won't be a baby any more.

And I thought "Well, it would only be decent to invite him over for lunch one day to say good-bye, right?"

So, I invited him to come over on Wednesday. He replied he would be packing then, as they're leaving on Thursday evening. Really? Packing all day long? He can't pack today or on Tuesday or on Thursday or all day Wednesday with the exception of, say, some two hours which he could spend seeing his granddaughters before he goes away?

So I said "OK then, come on Tuesday" and he said "I will have to see if my girlfriend's schedule allows for that. She has a dentist's appointment."

Are you kidding me?

By now, you should have learned a little bit about when it is appropriate to fake interest and love and when it's not.

Right now, his girlfriend has no classes so he has no use of my apartment as a waiting room, so he doesn't say "I have come to see you, my darling only child, and my dear Big Girl, and my cute smiling Baby, and my beloved son-in-law, while my girlfriend is in class." This is inappropriately fake.

When you're going away for six months and your granddaughters are tiny and growing so fast, it is appropriate to fake interest in them. You are supposed to act like you'd like to see them one last time before you go. Even if you don't feel like it. Your whole life is fake, you can do one more fake thing before you go.

What shocked me was my reaction. I was just so sad. I had a clear sense of loss. Maybe now I'm beginning to emotionally realize that I don't have a father and that I never did. I might have known it intellectually, but emotionally, I've kept the illusion that I was loved all this time, even after diagnosing him.

So I insisted and he realized he's supposed to do it and he agreed to come tomorrow. I have no idea why I insisted. I have no idea why being rejected by him hurts when I've been working on being free from him at least since my early teens and felt emotionally distant all that time.

Well, maybe I do, now that I think about it (this blogging thing really works): I've been working on opening up and caring and feeling my feelings, whereas, until now, I bought the "cold, unfeeling and selfish" definition of me that he implied and told myself, accordingly, that I didn't care about what he did and said, because I was unemotional and didn't care about him.

It is actually normal to feel sad when your father doesn't feel the need to see you or your kids. It is normal to mourn the loss of a father you never had. It is normal to want to reach out and not be rejected.

I'm not afraid to feel this nor will I be ashamed of it. It's OK to be human, whatever the narcissists may say.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A recurring dream recurring no more

Here is Nina's great post on the frustrating fact that we are left to finish the job of raising ourselves, socially and emotionally, because our narcissistic parents were unable to.

It reminded me of the message of a dream that I've been having for almost a decade.

In it, I'm dismayed to find out that there's a high school course I forgot to attend and I actually never graduated. So, my college degree, my M. Phil., my work on my doctorate, it's all useless, all for nothing, all invalidated, because I never graduated from high school.

I used to wonder what I might have missed academically. But the message wasn't about that. It was couched in academic terms because, apparently, that's all I understood.

So, recently, I had the same dream, only now my mother somehow appeared in it. I approached her and we talked and agreed to go out together, shopping, to the movies, for a walk, things we never did. My father was looking and he was angry and wanted to stop us, inventing silly reasons why we shouldn't go, but we just laughed at him and went away.

It was then that I learned that it was all going to be fine with that course. I'd have to do some work, take a class, do some tests, but it was going to all work out. And I woke up, finally understanding what the dream had been trying to tell me for years! 

In my mother tongue, the word used for graduating from high school has at its root "mature". I'd never matured. I became independent, I got married and had kids, but I hadn't matured into a real adult. I needed to do more work to raise myself, socially and emotionally, otherwise nothing in my life was really going to work out. But it's going to be fine. I can do it and I will. At least that's what the dream said.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Interpretation of Dreams

I had one of those meaningful dreams last night. I was sitting with some friends on top of a hill overlooking a lake at night. The lake was calm and deep and clear and you could see the bottom, although it was dark outside. My friends were chatting and one of them quoted some advice I'd given her. I said "What do I know?" and stood up. I started descending the hill, a baby in my arms, because I wanted to show the lake to the baby.

Someone said "There's filth at the bottom of the lake" and I said "No, those are plants. The lake is very clean and clear and you can see the plants on the bottom."

When I got almost to the foot of the hill, there were some stairs there leading to the lake. They were slippery and suddenly I was afraid for the baby. I sat down and closed my eyes and started slowly sliding down them, when, all of a sudden, something dark, wild, and stinky jumped at me, grabbed me by the hair and started screeching! I still didn't open my eyes. Then I woke up.

So far, this is what I've come up with: I want to go deep and discover my true self and see it through the eyes of my inner child. So I go on, further and further down into my memories and childhood and real feelings, but there's something scary there I'm still not ready to confront, and, until I do, I won't get it right. What could it be?

What grabbed me was an irritating, comparatively tiny monster. I wasn't really scared. I knew I'd get rid of it. But it was still preventing me from getting to the lake. And I wouldn't LOOK at it. I was just about to ask it: "Who are you and what do you want?" when I woke up.  

Dear fellow armchair psychologists, feel free to interpret!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"But he worries about you"

That's what my father-in-law said. I shared my diagnosis of my narcissistic father with my in-laws, and they were mostly supportive and responsive.

My FIL believed me, but then mentioned how my father worries about us so much, so he must care. My father actually called my in-laws several times to find out where we were because we hadn't informed him we were going away for a weekend or something of that sort!

I was taken aback for a second. It's hard to prove to others that this is just about control. Because other people who really care about their kids might actually pull a stunt like that. Or call, or wish to be called, or something.

And then I remembered. I have proof positive that he doesn't worry. That he doesn't care. That he'd just been using it as a means of control for as long as I could remember.

When my first child was a baby, the two of us spent a few days in his apartment in the city. He was away from the country with his girlfriend. My aunt came over and made coffee, then left, without switching off the kitchen aspirator. The same aspirator that he's always bugged me about. That he's always insisted HAD to be switched on even if I was only making tea. It was on for 10 minutes, and the old electric installations in the kitchen caught fire. I noticed a light coming from the cabinets, called the fire department, and got out at once. The firemen were there within a minute. When I went up again, the hallway was black. Scorched. A minute later, and we wouldn't have got out, my 4 month old baby and me. 

So I spent the night at my aunt's and in the morning sms'd him to call me at my aunt's because I needed to tell him something. I wanted to tell him slowly and cautiously, because I thought he was such a worrier about me and, by extension, his granddaughter. I hadn't known about his NPD back then.

So he called and I slowly told the whole story. He asked why he had to call. He said I needn't have worried.

HE WASN'T ANGRY ABOUT THE DAMAGE. It was my aunt's fault, not mine. He didn't blame me, so no problem.

So I said "I thought you'd be worried, that's why I wanted to tell you over the phone" and he sort of CHUCKLED. And that was it.


As it turns out, a new neighbor out here in the middle of nowhere where we're spending our holidays, and where we don't even have a phone line, has wireless internet and has allowed us to use it.

So, I couldn't help myself. I'm back. I didn't want to remove the previous post because that would remind me too much of gaslighting.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I'll be away until after Easter.

Happy Resurrection everyone! In religious, literal, symbolic, psychological or any other sense of the word!

strangely empowered

He's been trying to manipulate us both, his girlfriend and me, to make us believe we could never be close. She's been made to think I resent her trying to replace my mother and whatnot, and I've been led to believe that she finds my family of choice a drag and is too busy to ever come over. Actually, he tried to isolate us both and keep us from ever talking to each other.

Also, I've been led to believe that he's doing all these things for her and he apparently loves only her now - for instance, once, years ago, when I had a baby, I asked him to drive me somewhere as a favor, once, because I really needed it, once, and he said it wasn't convenient because it didn't fit in with his girlfriend's schedule. At the same time, she's aware he doesn't really love her - what kind of love disappears because she's lost her phone card, instantly? - but she tells me that "at least your father really loves you - he'd do anything for you" "So he might say to you", I replied.

Discovering how low my father is capable of sinking if given half the chance has liberated me from the last shreds of consideration I had for him. He's a ruthless, unscrupulous, dark individual that needs to be put in his place, and not coddled.

Who knows when I'll be able to overcome the injunction to stand up for myself. I feel it in my bones that standing up for myself is evil, immoral, selfish, wrong. Knowing rationally that this isn't true doesn't help much.

But knowing what he's doing to her is, in a tragic, horrid way, empowering to me. I know this sounds sick. It is. But, see, I'm more than ready and willing to stand up for her. I feel an angry, but calm strength. I know I'm stronger than him, but am not always willing to use it. I would for her, if she wants me to. I'd gladly publicly validate all her perceptions and experiences and back them up with mine.

If I'm able to somehow contact her without the risk of having him find out (I'm sure he reads all her correspondence), and I'll try to arrange that, I'll tell her that she can always count on my support. That I'll be on her side, because I understand. I've been there.

Friday, April 15, 2011

THIS is MY FATHER. An abusive, malignant narcissist.

I'm still nauseated by the revelation that my father is abusing his girlfriend. That the man who raised me and whose genes I carry is an evil, disgusting, perverted, foul-mouthed, aggressive bully.

Even after finding out my father suffers from NPD, I still idealized him in a way. I thought of him as a comparatively benign narcissist, as a poor, deluded soul, as just insecure and afraid of intimacy, as trying his personal best under the circumstances, as just wishing to be adored and admired and thanked because he has no other way of knowing he's alive.

Sweet denial.

He doesn't chauffeur his girlfriend to and from her classes because he wants her gratitude and admiration. He does it because he's insanely jealous and needs to control her every movement and STILL doesn't trust her even then. He waits for her in front of the school, and then gets horribly angry and hurls abuses at her if she shows up at the place where they AGREED to meet. Because he was waiting in front of the school, and she didn't come out. I came out the back door, as everyone else always does, she says. You didn't even go, you liar, you were screwing someone, I checked the back door, it's locked, he shouts. She takes him to the back door, shows him it's locked, asks the porter to confirm that she'd just passed there. And the scene repeats itself in many variations.

When she's working as a tour guide, and she's away for a whole day (but this is only 3-4 days a week, and he keeps complaining how he's alone all the time during the summer season), he waits for her and drives her home and then proceeds to question her about her day. She says, the tourists were nice, I spoke well, or I couldn't answer a question they asked, and he interrupts her. You know that's not what I'm interested in, he says. I want to know who touched you under the table. I want to know who came on to you. I want to know who you screwed so you're too tired to have sex with me now.

She didn't even want to repeat any of the horrible vocabulary he uses on her. I don't want to imagine.

Once, she lost her cell phone card and couldn't call him all day. So when she got back, at night, to a lonely spot 30 kilometers away from home, he wasn't there to drive her home. She wasn't worthy of his "love" any more. 

She says, when she can prove that he's imagining things, it doesn't help. It makes it worse.

When he abuses her verbally and criticizes her for stupid things she's not doing his way, and she apologizes, that also just makes it worse.

"My woman is my property." He actually said it. That's the real him. He keeps complaining about her not loving him enough, and I used to think that this is how he perceives it, in his own deluded way, when she doesn't adore him or thank him or worship him enough. No, he knows how he feels and what he's doing. He knows "She doesn't love me enough" means "She won't submit to my control completely, until she's utterly annihilated as a person."

He's a dark, disgusting, evil man, capable of horrid things.

The upside? He hasn't dared do anything like that to me for a really long time. I set boundary after boundary and he actually honors them, although I can see he's very resentful about it. He no longer mentions the way I raise my kids. He no longer nags daily about how we need another phone in our apartment. He no longer questions me daily about an old blanket I may have thrown out, or, as he suspects, his previous tenants "stole" (a stinky 50-year-old blanket? Unlikely). He no longer questions me daily about whether I'd taken my kids out for a long walk in the park. I had to train him to stop doing each and every one of these things, and it worked. Now I'm training him to realize that if he doesn't call and ask if it's OK to drop by, I may not be there. Or I may have other plans, or I may be entertaining guests he feels uncomfortable around. I've actually arranged other things unconsciously several times, and it felt great to see him so shocked and surprised that, instead of us coming to life and becoming animated puppets the moment he enters our lives again, we actually have lives outside of him. And we're living them when he's not there. It feels great not letting him get away with a single little lie in front of others.

And I stopped feeling like an ice cold bitch for acting this way. I still did, a bit, even after I found out about his NPD, when I thought, well, he's a benign narcissist, so why don't I throw him a bone, listen to his BS a little, pretend I respect him? What's the harm? Well, the harm is, he then thinks of me as weak. And potential prey again. No more. What I thought was an ice cold bitch since she made her appearance in my early teens is just a sane person with integrity. He complains how I'm harsh and argumentative and always have to be right. I thought I was. No. That's just his projection. And he pins these things on me just for defending my choices. I don't think I've ever started an argument with him. I just defend whatever he criticizes about me. And I'll even stop doing that. No need even to defend myself from his "opinions". They aren't that. They're attacks and attempts to make me care about what he thinks again. No way. It's even better to just ignore them and dismiss them.

He projected his narcissistic mother on me. She was the one who crushed him. On the one hand, it makes me sick, as this was an evil, evil woman. I don't want to be thought of as being like her in any way, even by him. On the other hand, this makes him a bit afraid of me. Because I won't submit to his control. And he knows it. And he's afraid of me. He's afraid of me. He's afraid of me.

I don't lie. I stop his lies in their inception. I talk. I talk to my husband. He talks to me. Once, he tried to manipulate us and turn us against each other. It failed miserably and ridiculously. Because we talk. And that time I really let him have it, so he withdrew and didn't communicate for a week. He can't touch us. And that's why he's always so uncomfortable around us. He's afraid of us. We're sane, strong, and honest. That's all it takes.

I refuse to feel guilty about that being sane, strong, and honest any more.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

He is abusing his girlfriend (Happy Birthday To Me)

Today is my birthday. My father came over with his girlfriend. I was alone with the girlfriend for about an hour and we had a heart-to-heart for the first time.

She is being abused. Big time. He follows her everywhere. He suspects her of infidelity, daily, viciously, offensively, without any pretext. He accuses her of lying to him, not loving him, cheating with every passer-by. He hurls abuses at her, asks her who's been touching her, who she's been screwing all day long so she's too tired for him (after she's been guiding a group of tourists for 12 hours). He told her once, when the mask dropped, that he thinks of "his woman" as his property. I said, not just his woman. Every human being he happens to run into.

She understands there's something fundamentally wrong with him. She doesn't know if staying with him is worth it.

I shared my perceptions with her and validated hers. I mentioned "ego", "vanity", "profound insecurity", "love" that vanishes in a heartbeat, his inability to be accountable and apologize, his need to put people down and prove them wrong and crush them.
But. I didn't give her the full diagnosis. I didn't use the NPD label or tell her NPD isn't something you "snap out of". She seems to think she can help him change. I expressed doubt, but didn't feel like revealing the full extent of my knowledge.

Partly because I'm afraid she'll confront him with the NPD label and where she got it from (me). I can't see much good coming out of it at the moment.

Partly because I'm afraid she'll leave him and I'll be his main focus once more.

Am I evil? What is the extent of our responsibility towards the other people in our narcissists' lives? Do we have the moral responsibility to warn them off?

What do you do?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


When I was four, my father took me on a long holiday, just the two of us. He asked me: "Do you want to stay at home with Mom or go to the seaside with me?" Being Daddy's girl and a sea-lover, I made the expected choice. I could see Mom was sad, but she said nothing.

Dad and I spent a month or two alone. Well, that's what he says. As we left when there was snow, and I remember swimming on the holiday, it could have been much, much more. I remember little of it. I asked him about it today. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to separate a family like that for no good reason. He said he did it for me because I was so "sickly". My lungs could do with a bit of sea air. But I was "sickly" throughout my childhood - what was special about that year?

Did they fight? Was he forced to take a leave off work? Was there a crisis of some sort?

The thing is, I'll never know. He's my only source of information. And he lies.

It's just so darn frustrating!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

One Narcissist's Rules of Success

I've felt like a failure for so long and couldn't quite figure out why. As it turns out, I've been trying, unconsciously, to "succeed" in life according to my father's rules.

And that's impossible, not because the rules are too hard or too demanding or too restrictive. It's because they don't form a coherent system. They're not consistent. They contradict each other. This is because they've all been made up on the spot over time in order to make my father seem better than me, or the neighbors, or his superiors.

1. One is superior to others on the basis of one's origin and talents. (This is because he personally hasn't achieved much in his life. He had a talent for music, but was persuaded by his parents to study engineering because it was more prestigious.)

But this is not enough, because I have the same origin and talents, according to him, at least. Thus:

2. One is inferior for not utilizing and displaying one's talents in a valid way.

3. "Valid" is subject to constantly being redefined. Usually, it is "getting employed by a government-owned institution that may have had some prestige when Narcissistic Father was young and was employed by a government-owned company (now bankrupt)."

Said company had been a disaster for years before it collapsed. But its name had the right ring to it at the time when he was offered a job there. So much so that his sister, the scapegoat, who was also offered a job there, wasn't allowed to accept it by their Evil Narcissistic Mother. How could she keep being inferior if she worked at the same place as the Golden Boy? 

4. It's somehow your fault if you don't show off your talents in a way that will reflect well on Narcissistic Father.

5. But, again, one must not be active and assertive in obtaining goals. (This is because all those colleagues of his that got promoted over him were just "pushy" - they were not really better than him.)

6. One must simply be "noticed" by figures in authority and offered the right position. (This is because Narcissistic Father was "noticed" by his high school principal as a good and obedient student and offered to join the Communist Party, which he considered to be an honor and despised people who applied for membership. He had no discernible political convictions, by the way. It was a matter of prestige. He was asked.)

7. One must honor every piece of junk inherited from one's elders, even if it's moldy, falling apart, or hideous. To do less than keep your home a museum of Old Junk is disrespectful and offensive.

8. One mustn't buy furniture that is cheap - then one is obviously a failure, inferior to the Shades of the Ancestors who bought "better" stuff (the above mentioned Old Junk).

9. One mustn't buy furniture that is expensive - then one is obviously an ingrate, living a life of luxury, oblivious to the struggles of the Shades of the Ancestors. 

10. Having and raising kids, especially young, is somehow worthy of subtle disdain. (He had me at age 40.) But parenting His Way has merit - it is the only way to ensure one is not neglecting one's child. 

Now that I've typed it out, this sounds like a recipe for disaster. And it is his disaster. Despising "rednecks" and "yokels", he is bitter when they are more wealthy and successful. "His" (actually, mostly my grandparents' - both sets of them) old junk has to be superior - materially or morally - to everything anyone else has. Especially me. But no one will accept it as gifts, not even the very poor. He gave up music to pursue engineering. He graduated at age 28 (!) with a low GPA. I guess that's why my academic success does little to earn his basic respect. He was employed by a big government company which was badly run and finally went bankrupt. His only daughter obviously doesn't need him or respect him enough. Now he has nothing. It's sad.

I haven't done this. I don't think like this. I actually have a good life. By changing my criteria into sane, consistent ones, I'm actually not a failure. Wow.


I wasn't loved because I existed. I wasn't loved for who I was.

Heck, I wasn't even loved for what I did.

I was loved for what I had. I had potential. I had intelligence. I had talents. All inherited, of course.

But I never quite knew how to show them off enough to bring enough pride to my narcissistic father.

When I was four or five and participated in a drama club with kids of all ages, we were once given a text to base an improvisation on. When I talked about it at home, my father asked me: "So, were you the one who read the text out loud to the rest of your group?" I said no, a much older boy did. My father got angry. "But you read so well! Why didn't you ask to read?" 

I was scared. I thought I'd done something terrible, so I lied: "The boy didn't let me."
"You should have insisted."
"But he threatened me."

Then my father went to the drama club to discuss this with the teachers. He learned, of course, that I'd lied, so he came home fuming with rage. Not because I lied. Not because I accused an innocent boy. What he said was: "Don't you dare ever put me in such an embarrassing situation again!"

Friday, April 8, 2011


So, a good friend, a former professor of mine, aware of my problem with my narcissistic father and his need to put me down about not working at the university he considers to be more prestigious because it is a government institution in a post-socialist country, spoke to him, as an authority figure (it was fun for him and he thought of doing it) about the relative merits of the private university I'm working at. He himself has taught at both, he's British, he graduated from Cambridge, and he's very aware of just how much the gov't uni sucks.

So, now, my narcissistic father has just staged a counter-offensive. He waited until the last second of his visit to pull this. He drew near me, patted me patronizingly on the back, and said "Here. You are worse than the gov't uni." And he handed me an article on a university listing which does put the gov't uni before my private uni. "You" are worse. In those words. Not even "your university." Or "the university you happen to work at." And then he left, without even giving me a chance to respond.

I don't care about either university. It's not about that. It's about my father relishing any chance to put me down.

I tore a piece of the newspaper off with my teeth. My husband just threw it away. He said "Ignore him. He's just trying to get his revenge because you're independent and successful."

And he's right. It's just hard to realize your father actively hates you and wants to hurt you and put you down.

Money Matters

Here is an informative post on all the things a narcissist might do when it comes to money. 

My narcissistic father has somehow always managed to stash away large sums of money, while simultaneously playing the part of a pitiable pauper. He repeatedly hid money from my mother, at times allowing our family to be partly supported by charity from her aunt, and then invested large sums foolishly. At the same time, he expected her to write down her every expense - "carrots at the farmers' market", for example. Not that it really matters, but she always earned at least as much as he did.

(Once, when she found out about an investment that fell through, she was really angry. They fought for days. I was seven and frightened my parents were going to get divorced, so I talked to a friend about it. Unfortunately, the friend's mother was a gossip, so this rumor reached my father. He summoned me. Told me he'd heard about what I'd told my friend. This is where, based on what I'd seen in movies, I expected him to say "Don't worry. We love each other. We love you no matter what. We're just fighting, but we're not getting divorced."

Instead, he yelled "Never talk about family matters to outsiders again! Now go to your room!")

Now, he complains to us how he's a poor pensioner. He receives a reasonable pension, rents out an apartment and gets money from that, and lives with his girlfriend, so they split all their expenses in half. He gets more money each month than my family of choice, and we pay all the bills, feed four humans, pay for diapers and preschool and clothes for two growing kids, and he accuses us of living a life of luxury and complains to us!

And the funny thing is, before I found out about NPD, I bought it! I thought I was a spoiled brat who's always had it easy so I couldn't guess just how hard he has it and even considered giving some money to my father to help him, although we were barely making ends meet, but he did "let" me live in one of "his" apartments. And then I did the math. I didn't have to know about NPD to understand there's something not quite right about the way his brain functions.


The dream I had last night - where the same Big Dark Institution that tested me and found me deficient and faulty and messed up also offered me therapy, with judging, labeling, harsh therapists - gave me another insight.

I could always relate so well to Kafkaesque Big Dark Institutions. The idea conflates the threatening authoritarian towering presence of my father with all his beloved Institutions which have always topped his hierarchies - hospitals, schools, universities.

On my bad days, I use the otherwise liberating knowledge that I'm an adult child of a narcissist as yet another piece of damning evidence against me. I always knew I was deficient, and now there's proof. I also approach the idea of therapy in that vein - something I could do to finally Become Good Enough. Another authority that can judge me and help me to finally find out what it is I have to do to become worthy of love and life.

In the dream, I get out of there. I stand alone in the sun, just happy to be free.

If I do seek therapy one day, it will not be because I want to comply to another Big Dark Institution that will judge me and fix me and make me worthy of my place under the sun.


The thing is, I don't want to go to therapy.

Not now that I understand what's been done to me. I've been judged, defined, redefined, categorized, put down, explained away, gaslighted, annihilated.

Right now I have an urgent need to be my own only authority on myself. I'm too afraid a therapist, as a kind of an authority in the therapeutic setting, would not be able to refrain from well-meaning labeling, definitions, categorizations or gaslightings. And I would either comply or rebel, as I always do when a person in authority is involved. And neither would be helpful to me.

A nice therapist that I know personally suggested a self-help book to me and then, almost timidly, added that I might want to consider therapy.

And I had a nightmare in which I was doing all these tests in a big, Kafkaesque, dark building. They would then tell me what to do with my life. The results show that I'm intellectually very competent, but there's something fundamentally wrong with me and I need therapy, right there, in that dark huge building. So I obey the huge institution. I go from door to door, knocking on each. Some potential therapists aren't even there. Some are evil, creepy, and try to just put a label on me and be done with me ("Why are you here? Are you a drug addict? A schizophrenic? What do you want?") - I don't even have the time to utter "I just want to learn to be me."

So I get the hell out of there. Out of the big dark building. Out in the sunshine and the air. And I just enjoy it.

The horror! The horror!

Sometimes I think I'm doing wonderfully now that I know what I've had to deal with all my life and now that I'm breaking free from the shackles of narcissistic parenting.

And sometimes I get absolutely horrified. I see nothing but an abyss of darkness inside me and think I'll never be a real human being, like others. I see myself as interrupted in my emotional development when I was born, or two and said "No" for the first time, or four and dared to play the way I wanted, and I think I'll never catch up. That maybe it would be better to get back into a shell and just go through the motions of doing things for my family of choice, because at least then my life won't have been completely in vain.

Yesterday my husband remarked that a reaction of mine (when I was upset and irritable all day and snapped at everyone because I wanted to be away from home and work in peace for 5 hours, and he said "Please, stay home, it's too long", and I stayed out of guilt, although I really didn't want to, but instead of saying so or just going or anything else, I stuffed it and then let it brew, and then when I explained it to him I pouted and shouted), was just like a two-year-old's. And it was. And that's where I might have to start with my development now. And my family might have to suffer.

And maybe I have nothing to develop from. Maybe I was annihilated emotionally as a baby, maybe there's nothing but darkness within. Sometimes I can really relate to Kurtz from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness when he dies and retells his entire life, looking into an expanding darkness, as simply: "The horror! The horror!"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Love your neighbor as yourself"

This is a notorious crux for adult children of narcissists. Some feel they need to learn to love themselves first and become "selfish", so they could then learn to love others. Some think this is narcissistic thinking, and recognize it in their narcissistic parents' justifications.

I see it like this: Jesus was here giving us an equation. An equation very useful to us adult children of narcissists. The unknown (x) is "love".

x(Others) = x(Myself) 

If you want happiness, peace, harmony, love, good relationships, even wealth, success, or achievements for yourself, you can want the same things for others. It's possible. It's even more likely you'll be happy if your neighbor's happy.

The equation works. What you feel is love. Congratulations. You're free from narcissistic traits and you're free from narcissistic conditioning.

If, on the other hand, what you want for yourself or your children is to be special or superior or better than others in any way - if you want to be the best - you can't logically want the same for others. It's impossible for everyone to be the best. So, if you "love" yourself or your children in that way, you can't "love" your neighbor as you "love" yourself.

The equation doesn't work. That's not love. You don't really love yourself. You're either a narcissist or have been conditioned by one to believe you're worth nothing if you're not the best or at least better than the neighbor's kid.

Don't worry. Be gentle to yourself. Allow yourself to love yourself. But really. Want good things for yourself. Happiness. Harmony. Peace. Joy. Integrity. You'll be surprised how easily and quickly real love for others will gush forth. Or, conversely, start by loving others the real way. Help them really grow and develop and be truly happy and joyful and kind, without any pressure to be better than anyone else at anything in the world. You'll learn to treat yourself the same way pretty darn soon.

So the debate about who comes first is silly. It's like the chicken and the egg. The important part is realizing what love is. When you've solved the equation, loving your neighbor as you love yourself is only natural.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Standing Up

I have made some choices in life against my narcissistic father's wishes, ideas and advice. I have rebelled against his worldview and his hierarchies. I have stood up against him repeatedly, starting at a relatively early age.

But I have still never - ever - stood up for myself.

I only realized this today. It was astounding. I was walking down the street and had to sit down when it hit me.

I have stood up against him on principle - if he criticized something or someone I was affiliated with, I would defend the idea or the person. I have stood up for other people he attacked, because I didn't like to hear people being attacked. I have stood up for my kids - if he tries to control my daughter and tell her how to play, I tell him, jokingly but sternly, "Leave my child alone." I have stood up for The Truth - if he bragged about me excessively, I'd correct him relentlessly in public.

But I have yet to stand up for myself.

For instance, when I was seven and another little girl and I roughhoused with him and he threw us down on the ground really hard, I spoke up. But not for me - if it had only been me, I would have kept quiet. I said to him, literally "You can do to me what you want, because I'm your daughter, but I don't think it was right to do that to someone else's child." This incident ended badly. So I know I'm not gutless.

No, I just have a deep-seated belief that I'm not worthy of my own advocacy. I don't think of myself as worthy of being defended by me. Now there's a weird story of me, myself and I!

It influenced other areas of my life as well. When I was in college, I was the representative of the student body. I fiercely fought against every professor, assistant or bureaucrat I perceived as "tyrannical" towards the students. But when I was being treated very unfairly myself by a professor who had a grudge against me (I was failed twice and I could prove that all my test answers were 100% correct both times), I only half-heartedly complained about it once to one person. Unofficially.

I had a bad experience with my first hospital birth. And although I've been very angry about the way hospitals function and what they do to women on principle, I'm still not sure I'd feel entitled to personally refuse procedures or interventions that "only" make my experience of birth and recovery more painful and difficult. I'd more easily be an advocate for someone else, though, and I'd most willingly have a heated discussion with figures in authority about the whole matter on principle

Why? I've no idea. What comes to mind is: It's different for me, I'm not important, It doesn't matter, I can handle it, I'm strong or have to be, and if I complain then I'm being weak and whiny and I can't stand to inconvenience others.

Anyone else? How do they do it to us?

How do you switch it off?

It's a miracle! He's a new man!

My narcissistic father called me yesterday. He says he's been doing some serious soul-searching, and he realizes, on his own, that he has some deep issues that have led him to treat me and others less than kindly in his life.

He apologized, sincerely, for separating me from all the people in my life who might have truly loved me and giving me only fake, selfish love in return. He promised he'd try to lay his pride aside and never hurt anyone again.

He also says he's started therapy and that he would like me to meet his therapist in private and alert him to any areas that he needs to work on that he's unaware of. He doesn't want to be present at this session because he wants me to feel perfectly free to voice everything and anything that might have bothered me in my relationship with him.

We had an intimate, real conversation for the first time ever, and we truly connected. I think he's really, truly changed!

Yes, I know, you didn't buy it. Yes, I know, I didn't get you. Still, happy April Fools' day!

(And typing out this joke has really been therapeutic for me. I realized that this is what I need and want and this is what can only happen in an April Fools' Day joke.)