When Dealing With a Narcissist... Don't Fight, Don't Engage, Forget about Analysis, Forget about the Past, Forget about Trying to Change Them... Just Move On
I found you looking for answers. I have raised two children on my own due to the fact their mother is an addict with mental illness. She never was able to make it back to the sane world. My kids have grown up great do to my sacrifices. One 19 in college and one 25 who graduated. I have now found myself back after all these years dealing with an alcoholic for 4 years. The alcoholic high functioning and has co occurring illness. On paper she is the best catch a guy could want. She is aware of the issues but has strung me alone for years with getting help but never doing it. One or two meetings and being let go by therapists. I read your book and passed it on and it gave me hope that people can change. Most people say the addict will never change. I’m not much of a religious person but I am trying to be spiritual and open minded. I have faith and hope for people and I strive to be the best I can be everyday. That’s the message I send out to my loved ones. At least try and move forward. You are right time to grow up. I did. I have battled with the idea about the destruction and pure meanness an addict and whether the disease is driving or is the narcissism/sociopath driving the storm. My addict has cut me out of her life because I stopped enabling and wanted them to best healthy. It’s hard lesson to learn and painful but I reread your writing and can’t wait for more. It truly helps out here. Thanks for your dedication.
Thank you, Derek, for reaching out and writing so honestly, and I hope more people follow your lead. Writing is cathartic, and can also help to diffuse a strong impulse or feeling before we react. My better posts are usually the ones I don't publish right away, inspiration aside, as the initial 'throw up' is purely a reaction. Giving it enough time such that the emotional charge has softened or that I just don't care anymore is the point at which a post can then be properly edited and most effective - less superlatives and so forth.
What you say about growth is very poignant. The sad thing is that addicts and narcissists will never grow based on what anybody else wants or expresses. Being purely selfish, they will only grow and change if they want to grow and change. Most, however, will not, as that kind of courage is rare enough in the average person, let alone the drug addict or alcoholic, and especially the narcissist.
Regarding cause and effect, in a sense it doesn't even matter as a) they've been how they've been and whatever happened has happened so why waste your time and energy trying to figure out what caused what etc... and b) It doesn't really matter. In another words, addicts and narcissists are interchangeable. They are kind of one in the same in the sense that both conditions spring from selfishness, i.e. spiritual sickness.
I've thought much about narcissism lately, as it has been so present in my recent experience, and wanted to continue to expand on other elements that define the narcissist, as infuriating as they are...
One thing about narcissists is their uncanny ability to, within about 10 seconds of a conversation, make you feel like you're literally going insane. Why? Because it is not possible to have a logical, reasonable, sane discussion or argument. You cannot expect someone who has no grip on reality to engage rationally, so don't even bother trying. Save yourself the absolute fucking torture. It is excruciating and they are insufferable... kind of like a spoiled, clueless mellenial behind a podium.
But what narcissists (psychopaths) do is when you bring up any genuine concern or issue you may have and regardless of the civility with which you deliver it, the conversation is immediately twisted and contorted, the subject is changed, and before you know it you are made to feel like an abusive monster. They almost magically turn themselves into the victim so they can successfully ignore everything you said - every truth, every fact. If they are triggered, even to the slightest degree, they don’t let you speak. You have no voice. They are able to utterly disempower you by never letting you express anything. And even if they respond to what you've said, it is usually met with pathological denial, bitter defensiveness and rage. They are all manner of crazy and employ every sick and vile method in the book.
Even the most docile of observations or suggestions delivered from a place of love or genuine hurt, watch out. They are experts in somehow turning it around, accusing you of the same, or worse. Often they will change the subject by picking a fight about something totally random, unrelated and nonsensical. Once they can push your buttons and get you to react, they have now successfully stomped on your voice (let alone your spirit) and any hope of you getting your original concern heard. They can now avoid facts and truth. They can avoid everything you want to express by diverting what was intended to be a simple discussion into a full blown brawl where the only thing that apparently matters is how YOU are the bad guy who is victimizing and abusing THEM. Very clever. Psychopaths manage to make EVERYTHING about them.
Don’t fall for it. Don't get sucked in. If you do, you will find yourself terrified of being around these people, as I have. You will begin to feel like you are walking on eggshells 24/7, constantly worried about what to say, what not to say, what to do, what not to do. You are made more nervous because they are so nervous. It is palpable. They walk into a room wearing so much on their sleeve it's as if a cinder block fell on your head. If a mere countenance could stone you to suffocation, it would. The energy is so heavy you feel almost paralyzed. What do you do? What do you say? How do you look? How do you even move your body? You never know what will set them off, as there is no formula. The same thing acceptable one day is no longer okay the next. It even gets to the point where you have to rehearse everything you do and say, praying you do not wake the demon... because even the way you sit, stand or look might trigger them. They will judge you and criticize you for no reason whatsoever.
In breaking you down, they must also be pathologically controlling, as only in controlling you can they complete the demolition of your spirit. To control is also to manipulate, and thus you may not even realize what is happening, but it is. Whether passive or overt, they are controlling every aspect of your life. Psychopaths will always ask what you're doing and who you're with, and if they feel threatened by anything, even something as innocent as you going to spend time with say, a parent, they will attack you, the person you're with, or they will judge and criticize what you are doing (especially if perhaps they don't share the same kind of loving parental relationship you do). You have to realize that they are not normal. They are jealous of the stupidest things.
And the effects of control and manipulation is that you begin to isolate, not because you want to but because it’s just too heavy a price to pay to hang out with friend or, God forbid, have a friend or colleague of the opposite sex. They can be especially sarcastic or nasty towards anything you do that brings you joy. They hate and despise seeing you joyful when it doesn't directly involve them. Thus, they will try to (again, whether subtly or blatantly) destroy it and your joy in any way they can by either attacking or making fun of what brings you joy, criticizing you for enjoying it, or telling you that it’s irresponsible and you’re not a man if you enjoy it. It doesn't matter how innocuous or healthy it may be, whether some hobby of yours or hanging out with some friends. Anything. Doesn't matter. They are blood suckers. They are soul suckers.
Psychopaths are miserable, shattered, enraged, tortured souls. They can't be changed. They can't be reasoned with. There is no sane forum for the insane. All you can do is pray for them and change yourself. And always keep strong, well-defined boundaries. I always recommend that parents and spouses give to themselves, NOT the addict or the narcissist/psychopath, unless you are a glutton for punishment and want to continue wearing yourself down. Trying to help or fix an addict is NOT a healthy distraction. It is masochistic. And most likely, the only thing it is distracting you from is what lies within. So focus on yourself, heal yourself, nourish yourself. If the addict is going to respond to anything, just like a child to a parent, it is you setting an example... but don't count on it, lol. Usually, the better you get, the more you grow, the happier you seem, the more they will attack. Success, joy and blessings for you is like a dagger in the psychopath's heart.