Step Two: Self Management
abuse, NPD, narcissistic personality disorder, spousal abuse, emotional abuse
Date: 7/15/2007 10:42:38 AM ( 16 y ) ... viewed 22312 times
Until I asked for a divorce and had finally escaped from my abusive situation, I had never heard the term, "Narcissistic Personality Disorder," though I was familiar with the definition of, "sociopath." I asked one of the Court-appointed counselors if, after all that he'd witnessed between our fractured family, was it possible that I had been married to a sociopath. His answer, "I believe that you certainly were."
For me, the most important tool that I found in coping with the NPD was that I did not have to relinquish control over my Self (my Life's Spark) to any other human being. What that translated to in practical terms was that, when he wanted to argue, scream, follow me around and threaten me, etc., I did not have to give up to reaction. One of the most devastating attributes of living with an NPD for years upon years is that we, the victims/supplies, often develop narcissistic traits, ourselves, as a mechanism to cope. Once I realized that the NPD did not hear the words of damage that I would speak, it was like a fog lifting from in front of my eyes. I began to take control of my life, my reactions, and my decisions. I stopped blaming my situation on the NPD and his abusive actions and began refusing to engage in negative dialogue. Sometimes, this was nigh-on-impossible, as he despised the notion that I might be developing a mind of my own, and a plan to escape the source of my torment - this was the most dangerous time of my association with him.
The main NPD in my life had never had an original idea in his life. All reactions, implied emotional responses, or random acts of kindesses were learned by absorbing the personalities of other narcissistic supplies. These included (but, were not limited to) coworkers, former friends, current acquaintances, pastors, even children. He was also a strong practitioner in the tactics of "Withold/Reward." This was one of the earliest warning flags that, had I been better educated on behavioral disorders, I would have identified and fled from at the first outset! Withold/reward goes like this: if you agree with my system of beliefs, I will tell you what a wonderful person you are; if you ratchet down your self-esteem a couple of notches, I will demonstrate what I feel to be affection; if you disagree with my point of view, I will treat you as if you are a non-entity; if you question my validity, I will tell you what a lousy lover you are; etc.
About seven months ago, I watched (almost in horror) as a lovely young woman submitted to the Whithold/Reward tactic in this manner: after a long day, her boyfriend showed up (whom none of her coworkers had EVER met, before) to take her home. This lovely young woman said, "We're going to leave a little early so he can get me something to eat." This ... man looked right at her and responded by saying, "I'm not taking you ANYwhere!" The young woman questioned, "Why not? I'm hungry!" The man replied without missing a beat, "Because you don't deserve it." The young woman then said, "Why not? What have I done?" and, at that point, I stopped the %¤#&!§-from escalating - I had seen and heard enough and it triggered my past. I was compelled to say to this man-thing that I had never met before, "You will take her to get something to eat, right now, and you won't ever talk like that to her, again, in my presence."
When we realize that we are involved with an NPD, it is a devastating revelation. We want, so badly, to believe that the "good traits" that we fell in love with, or became friends with, are just lurking beneath the surface. We know that we experience emotional discomfort and confusion when we interact with these people, but we are conditioned to feel that we, the supplies, are the ones who are nuts and just over-exaggerating things. Then, when we make attempts to leave or sever our associations with these people, they bait, lure, and hook us back onto their supply lines like a stream trout on a fishing line. We see the invitation, we question their motives, and we give credence to our perceptions and go straight back to the hook of friendship, sex, love, etc., that never existed, in the first place.
So, in essence, I learned that I had to manage my Self and my emotions, rather than attempt to retrain someone on how to empathize, sympathize, and demonstrate genuine feeling - the NPD has no interest in empathy - their condition demands immediate attention, where mine could be swept under the rug. They are not interested in feeling emotion - to do so might unlock the floodgates and expose them for what they are. And, the dehumanization and objectification only ended when I made the decision to stop playing the role of the NPD supply.
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