Trying to UNDERSTAND and LEARN from relationship with a narcissist (and not/ no longer spew vitriol about them)

@Rose White, it was fine until they reduced a very, very serious thing and made a flippant comment about it.

@Ecdysis, my ex husband most likely falls under the umbrella. Our initial years were full of him being open, honest to a fault, being the perfect person I needed. Until the later years when he betrayed the family in a massive way through abusing multiple people. Through therapy I’ve learned that what he did was abusive to me as well, physically, sexually, mentally, financially. But none of what he did could ever touch on what happened to the kids he abused. Not even in the same universe.
 
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Okay, I think I'm starting to figure this out a bit...

Just as PTSD is a specific way of being "broken" and it comes with specific behaviours and coping mechanism... We can turn some of them into "superpowers". For example, my ability to dissociate and numb-out in stressful situations means that I've been good at dealing with hugely stressful situations at work, that would mess with a normal person. (At the same time, I'm often bad at dealing with the normal type of stressors that non-traumatised people are great at dealing with).

Now, it's up to me how I use the "superpowers" that come with my particular experiences and my way of being broken. I think most of the time, I use them for "good", so I'm not walking around trying to actively harm anyone. However, even if my intentions are good, my behaviour can come off as callous, cold, unfeeling to some people (which is the flipside of being numb/ dissociated and being calm in the face of chaos.)

While I don't yet fully understand "what's going on" with narcissism, I do think it's a "breaking" in that very early toddler phase which is associated with narcissistic tendencies. Narcissists' way of being "broken" gives them some "superpowers" and some major deficits/ flaws.

Then comes the decision of each individual narcissist, whether to use these abilites for good or bad.

But even if they're more-or-less benign (ie. they're not out to malignantly cause harm and destruction and don't revel in achieving it)... Even if all they're doing is the normal type of self-preservation and fulfilment of their individual interests that we all basically do... Both their "superpowers" and their deficits can still wreak quite a lot of damage and pain on others.

I think one of the problems is that when we meet a narcissist, often we don't realise it. I mean sure, some of them are very obvious - you can spot them a mile off. But I don't mean those ones... I mean those that hiding it from you because they're trying to impress you or woo you or charm you or whatever. And because you don't realise you're in a narcissist dynamic, you interact with them like they're a normal person. And their "superpowers" seem really impressive and you assume that if they're great at those things, then they must be smart/ nice/ skilled/ whatever.

But just like someone observing me being calm in an emergency would think I have some amazing superpowers and must be really stress resilient... well they'd be wrong... they just don't understand the dynamic of PTSD and it wouldn't make sense to them that I can be calm as f*ck during an emergency but literally meltdown over other (tiny) stressors that most people would take in their stride.

So, just like PTSD is a very non-obvious, non-intuitive dynamic, I guess the same is true of narcissism. It's a confusing, strange, non-intuitive way of being broken.

I guess I'm really lucky that (as bad as things were) I did not get tangled up with a malignant narcissist. I guess I should be really, really grateful that I had a confused/ covert/ dysfunctional/ inconsiderate narcissist to deal with.

I'm starting to think that "lack of emotional maturity" runs through all of what he did - that the idea of him being stuck at a toddler level kind of rings true - that he had the intensity of a toddler - either pure joy or pure misery - and the self-centredness of a toddler - their inability to understand that others are "humans" too, just like them - like when a toddler clobbers another toddler over the head with a shovel in the sandpit - they just have zero concept of "the other person hurting" and that's why you shouldn't hit them - it's actually a reeeeeeeeally hard concept for them to learn and takes them aaaaaages - that a toddler will yell "I love you" and will do "whatever" to get what they want - and will yell "I hate you!!!" when they don't get what they want... And that to a toddler, you're basically just a "provider" and they love you because you are providing for them - and if you weren't there and someone else was providing in your place, well they'd love them just as much...
 
@Ecdysis that sounds about right. Also, the more you develop your ability to discern behavior unacceptable to you, the more refined your lessons will be from the universe.
 
While I don't yet fully understand "what's going on" with narcissism, I do think it's a "breaking" in that very early toddler phase which is associated with narcissistic tendencies.
Narcissism in NPD exists because of an exceptionally fragile ego. This makes it difficult to challenge a person with NPD, to disagree with them, to criticize them. They become so distressed over this that they wind up being "injured" (a narc injury) and then lash out. Whilst some people might be able to hide their reaction for a period of time, eventually it becomes obvious that it's due to being "slighted." And if your ex didn't have these problems, then he probably wasn't NPD.
 
Edit to add: For anyone who's not experienced the love-bombing thing first hand, I'd describe it as the adult version of what "grooming" is in CSA.

So I’ve been having a challenging week (illness) where I keep having to save posts to drafts whilst I track down two neurons to rub together to get a spark, come back later, realize I’ve saved half my post but not the other, didn’t post the half I meant to, have 3 more saved to drafts, all outta order. 🤪 😵‍💫 😲 Aaargh. Just one of those weeks! They happen. Still vexing.

One of the pieces of a monster long draft I have sitting here, trying to untangle my thoughts?

Exactly that!

how to tell the difference between normal-nice behavior and love-bombing

The exact same way to tell the difference between grooming & friendship/mentoring. What happens next.

- If it’s grooming, sexual assault happens next.
- If it’s friendship/mentoring, it’s not.

What’s the difference between love-bombing & passionate-enthusiasm / normal-nice? What happens next.

- If it’s a ploy to keep a victim (of abuse, or adultery, of a con, of etc.), on the hook, victimisation/abuse is next.
- If the person/company is just nice, it’s not.

Which is both one of those things that’s so simple it’s maddening, as well as underscores what @Sideways said about boundaries in post # 8. Which means in essence? One gets the best of both worlds! (Wait? Not maddening?). Because one gets all awesome of badass people just being themselves, AND cuts off anyone who is just pretending to be amazing as a ploy.

IE it’s less about predictive behaviour, and how to not fall for someone being nice (making all nice people suspect! No joy shall be had!); than responsive behaviour, and not putting up with shitty behavior (people being assholes aren’t tolerated).

So it starts off maddening & steeped in powerlessness … but flips 180 degrees, via boundaries… where all the power is actually right here, right now, with you/me/whomever, welcoming tne good, and disallowing the bad.

Responsive rather than Predictive.

Gets synergistic, slowly at first, but then exponentially over time.
 
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Narcissism in NPD exists because of an exceptionally fragile ego. This makes it difficult to challenge a person with NPD, to disagree with them, to criticize them. They become so distressed over this that they wind up being "injured" (a narc injury) and then lash out. Whilst some people might be able to hide their reaction for a period of time, eventually it becomes obvious that it's due to being "slighted." And if your ex didn't have these problems, then he probably wasn't NPD.
Yup, this happened all the time. Not in the initial honeymoon-love-bombing phase, but this is what first started the bad phase. He'd have these baffling, epic meltdowns that would last from 12 - 48 hours because I'd "looked at him wrong" or "said the wrong word".
I was horrified when it started, because these meltdowns were spectacularly bad and utterly confusing. He'd say they were "all my fault" and yet I'd literally done nothing to set them off, other than breathe wrong/ be myself/ say a completely normal sentence.
Then, in the days after the meltdown, I'd ask him what the hell had happened, because I wanted to understand it and avoid it in future and he'd be scathing, telling me I was being "nasty" and "unfair" for bringing up the subject of his meltdowns.
 
The exact same way to tell the difference between grooming & friendship/mentoring. What happens next.

- If it’s grooming, sexual assault happens next.
- If it’s friendship/mentoring, it’s not.

What’s the difference between love-bombing & passionate-enthusiasm / normal-nice? What happens next.

- If it’s a ploy to keep a victim (of abuse, or adultery, of a con, of etc.), on the hook, victimisation/abuse is next.
- If the person/company is just nice, it’s not.
Ughhhhh that's freaking me out... 😵‍💫

Currently, I'm trying to move from a shared housing situation on a farm to a new shared housing situation on a farm and I'm trying to move about 15 animals with me, so it's pretty challenging to find a place that fits and if it turns out it doesn't fit, will be hard to find another place. (If it was just me, without any animals, it would be easy to move again if the choice I make doesn't fit.)

So, I've been meeting up with people on farms who are renting out shared housing space and "all" we have to go on are basically first impressions, whether the other person "seems nice", clues to their character, any red flags etc. (I guess it's sort of like dating)

So I'm in the situation where I'll be a) signing a contract and b) moving myself, my belongings, the animals into a situation that's not easily flexible/ I can leave easily.

That means the consequences of whether I make the right choices or not are pretty huge for me right now.

I've met a bunch of these people now and some of them are really "nice" and some of them are even going out of their way to be helpful and accomodating.

On the one hand I'm massively grateful and appreciative of this, on the other hand, since I've been through this honeymoon-narc phase twice now (romantic relationship and boss at work) (and I'm not using the word "narc" lightly there to mean "someone who pissed me off" but seriously as the 2 people that have crossed my path with close proximity that displayed all the signs of literal narcissism)... And now my spidey-senses are hugely triggered everytime someone is offering to be nice/ supportive/ kind or going out of their way in a way that isn't 100% to be expected from them logically serving their own objective best interests.

Currently my brain is actually "weeding out" all the people being nice to me and looking for people who are neutral/ disinterested/ only vaguely supportive, because my brain feels like "At least I can trust their intentions".
 
I think the focus needs to be on you, rather than trying to understand the behaviour of everyone else.

My take on it is, that, as an adult, you know on some level if someone is behaving towards you in a way you don't appreciate. But that we are very good at putting those little "ouches" aside for the sake of a sense of compromise. But, as my T highlighted to me, compromise when only one person is doing it, isn't compromise, it's sacrifice. And that helped me understand my boundaries and expressing my needs.

Yes you have to make a big decision about who yo live with. But, it depends how emotionally invested you are going to be in those relationships. And how much you are going to let the behaviours of others impact your state of mind.

So I don't think it's about you not being able to judge someone correctly, but perhaps more about how far you are going to abandon yourself and your feelings?

When making a decision about living with people, you can interview them in the way they interview you? So, what do you want to know about them? How about giving them topics to discuss how they would handle it in terms of living together. What if one of the animals did something? What if you were away and an animal was sick, what would they do? Etc.

Go with your gut.
This previous relationship has made you doubt yourself. But maybe it's about reclaiming your confidence in yourself. You know how you want to be treated.
 
When making a decision about living with people, you can interview them in the way they interview you? So, what do you want to know about them? How about giving them topics to discuss how they would handle it in terms of living together. What if one of the animals did something? What if you were away and an animal was sick, what would they do? Etc.

Yah... I'm doing my due diligence with all of this, but I don't agree that that's enough. At all.

I'm going to add a video of a specialist on narcissism being interviewed about "how to spot them" and I think her replies are pretty spot-on. At one point she says "Narcissists know the "right" answers to the questions you're asking, so they'll just say the "right" thing in response."

I find the person doing the interviewing really annoying... She's one of those "life coaches" and influencers... sigh... But thankfully her questions are brief and the expert does most of the talking.

I think she explains pretty well how narcissist do "groom" their victims. And I'm sorry if that word upsets some people. I don't mean to say (and didn't previously either!) that adults getting abused is "as bad as" children getting abused. Obviously child abuse is far, far more abhorrent.

But I do think that perps have a similar modus operandi when they're choosing and preparing their victims, regardless of whether they're preying on adults or children. I think anyone who hasn't been full-on played by a narcissist who's determined to hook them and break them doesn't understand the nature of the dynamic. It really *is* a perp that you're up against and they're doing EVERYTHING THEY CAN to screw with your mind and to bait you and screw you over utterly and completely. Which is why they're soooo convincing, even when you're doing all of your due diligence and then some. They pass these tests with flying colours. It's a true mindf*ck.

I do think the examples the expert is giving are kind of helpful... I can kinda see what she's getting at when she says "something seems off". I dunno how to put it into words tho and I guess neither does she. She points out that she and other trained psychologists may need 4 to 5 full sessions with a client, before they can "tell" that the patient may be a narcissist - and given that they've got tons of training to be able to tell stuff like that - if a trained expert needs 4 to 5 sessions, then what the heck chance have us normal folks got at being able to "spot" a narcissist early on...

 
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