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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 11:11 AM
  #1
Hi,

I was in a long term marriage to someone that I now know was a covert narcissist.

This isn't a pop-psych buzz word thing. After we separated, my long term therapist said, "I couldn't diagnose her as she's not my client, but you have been for six years. It's time we begin treating you for long term narcissistic and borderline abuse."

So. That leaves its mark.

Also, looking back, I can say that I have been invalidated and provoked in my birth family in significant ways over the years. Once I get overwhelmed, word is out; "RD is impossible, he's just so angry, you never know what is going to set him off, etc."

I still have to interact with my birth family. I'm tired of being provoked until I act out of character. The thing is, once I do that, and THAT is invalidated, I tend to double down and say it harder.

You can only say, "I'M NOT CRAZY AND I'M NOT ANGRY" a couple of times before you look totally, totally crazy and angry.

I have to work on not being provoked, and not reacting when I'm not validated on something.

There is something going on right now.... My father said something about me that is totally out of line..... Like.... Where you go, "Seriously? WTH?"

But such a thing could affect me in ongoing court issues for custody of my kids.

So... I react out of fear and anger. Tell him he nuts, he's gone too far, etc., and he goes, "See? This is the kind of abuse we get from you."

I'm open to anyone who wants to offer some suggestions or insight.

Thanks,

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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 01:59 PM
  #2
Oh, you sound so much like my experiences. I was never angry around others growing up but wow, my parents would sure trigger my anger (out of frustration with them I think). I was already on overload from my parents then ended up in a marriage that did the same thing & I had no anger even with frustration outside of those relationships. I never got actual invalidation but I never got any validation.....but I did what I knew I wanted with my life no matter what & ended up with my degree & my career I worked hsrd for without any outside encouragement.

By the point I started healing with good therapy, my parents were no longer alive so I never had a chance to see if my healing & new skills would have worked with them. I had left my marriage & basically had no contact with my husband except through lawyers for 11 years before I saw him again. I was so worried that he would trigger all my anger again when I saw him at the ranch I was staying at for a little vacation & a court hearing against him. He was doing night horse feeding at the ranch & I couldn't avoid running into him. Oh the anxiety of wondering. Turned out I had learned how to control my responses & redirect conversations. I also think because I wasn't already being on overload it might have helped me keep my cool. My opinion of him had & has never changed but how I responded truly had.

It has been interesting listening to Dr Ramani. All those relationships had a narcissistic overtone to them but one time she said that when dealing with people on the spectrum there are similarities but cause & intent are different. When spectrum issues aren't diagnosed it is not that easy to know if there is a different cause or intent because to the receiver it feels the same.

Yes, changing responses & also limiting interaction as much as possible to keep from experiencing the overload that causes the response that ends up being preceived as anger. IT IS NOT EASY

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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 02:34 PM
  #3
Did I read between the lines correctly Eskie?

Did you tell me to get a dog?

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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 02:38 PM
  #4
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Did I read between the lines correctly Eskie?

Did you tell me to get a dog?

RDMercer
I won't make you read between the lines. Go get a dog.

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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 06:04 PM
  #5
Sounds like they are gaslighting you hence, making you the problem (or the 'crazy' one) when they are the trigger.

Agreed on the learning not to react part but that is easier said than done. If possible also, disengage with these people as much as possible. And still work with your therapist on emotional regulation and strengthening your inner self. Then you will be able to bat these gnats away from a grounded place!
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Lightbulb Mar 19, 2024 at 06:49 PM
  #6
It's just that all I want is peace and strong family connections.

My parents are old. I just wish I could enjoy them.

My dad just... concocts... these things that suddenly need attention or that I have to fix about myself or the kids.

I can be completely relaxed and, "We need to talk..."

Last summer, six months after my wife and I split, it was, "We need to talk. Your children need a mother.
There's been enough of this moping around. You should have already been looking for someone ."

If I say something like, "That's.... insane. Middle aged women with no histories or responsibilities who will move into my home and accept me and my children don't exist. And I'm still grieving. We're still unpacking the degree of abuse to the kids."

So.... That makes me difficult and impossible to speak to. I'm always angry. Hair trigger, ready to go off.

He's continued with that stuff, calling my competency as a parent into question.

Boom. Now we're done. I'm fighting for my kids in court, and you aren't safe to be around.

My father recently told me how terribly angry his older brother would get at him. I said, "Yeah, you've always said that. But he never came here. Those times always happened when you went to his house, and the fights were around his business, his kids, and his marriage."

Again.... Proof that I'm just difficult.

I wish I could suppress my reactions to him and this insane crap.
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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 07:20 PM
  #7
Your father has no business telling you what to do. He is disrespecting your boundaries and treating you like a child. Itís understandable you get triggered.

Have you.asked for his advice? Is it your father who has a history of abusing alcohol?

Your father should not be telling you to quickly find a woman to swoop in and parent your children. That doesnít fly in this generation and is not something people have done in a few generations now.

Last edited by Open Eyes; Mar 19, 2024 at 07:55 PM..
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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 07:30 PM
  #8
No Dad didn't drink. My mom did.

No, I didn't ask his advice.

Things could be fine for weeks or months and SUCKER PUNCH!

Then when I react, he's the victim... But he was only acting out of love, or in some cases concern for someone's soul.

Oh yes, I've come to realize.... I grew up around a covert narcissist and then married one that was far worse.
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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 07:35 PM
  #9
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Originally Posted by RDMercer View Post
Hi,

Also, looking back, I can say that I have been invalidated and provoked in my birth family in significant ways over the years. Once I get overwhelmed, word is out; "RD is impossible, he's just so angry, you never know what is going to set him off, etc."
RD, I think they know exactly what will set you off, and they do so intentionally.

Your post about "changing your responses" really hits home for me because I'm dealing with this with people in my community of dog sports, and particularly this one woman who has been doing things to intentionally bait me and get a reaction and make me look angry/crazy/immature, whatever, when really it's HER behavior that is immature, childish, and unsportsmanlike. Her toxic goal is to get a response out of me that proves her point. I think your family does the same.

I don't think our goal should be to change our responses, but rather, it should be to recognize when someone is baiting us and just walk away so they can't get the satisfaction. Our goal should be to spot toxic people and avoid them like the plague, so that no reaction/response even comes into the equation.

I spoke with both OE and Eskie over the weekend about this person and their behavior. This person did get a response out of me a little bit with their baiting and childishness, but it didn't really get them what they wanted. I wish I hadn't even responded with what little I had. Or, I can think back now at least to a better way to have responded that would have been less responsive and not given her what she wanted. Unfortunately, I really didn't know that she would stoop to the level that she did, but I should have guessed it.

So, apologies, not intending to hijack your thread, just telling this story to show I relate, and to also share my own realization, which is that it's not about not responding. It's about having the boundaries to avoid them in the first place.

And what I also realize is that this is the entitled type of person (I'm not going to arm chair diagnosis this woman, but I can definitely say without a shadow of doubt that she's very entitled, toxic, and self centered) doesn't think twice about what they did to you. Your family isn't sitting around thinking up new ways to torture you or bait you. They go about their day thinking about themselves, and when you are around, it gives them pleasure to bait you to prove who you are (or who they say you are), and when you're gone, they just sit in their self satisfaction thinking about themselves.

When your dad says things that are just like WTF, when you find yourself questioning why any human being would say that to you, that's your sign to end the conversation. And that's not a negotiation. It sounds to me like your father isn't a "safe" person for this kind of discussion anyhow.

I could have avoided exploding at this woman when she called me over and baited me into conversation a month ago, but she's going around lying about what happened and saying that I got into it with her, and I certainly could have avoided that by simply refusing to get into that conversation at all with her when she started talking to me. But I wasn't on my guard and I didn't realize her level of toxicity, and I got baited into it. It's not my fault, and I can forgive myself, but it's given her ammo to continue trying to bait me.

On the other hand, I'm also friends with a woman in the community, she's funny because personally we are very different people, she's conservative politically and I avoid talking about anything sociopolitical or anything, we just talk about dogs, but one thing I've learned from her is to have a don't give a **** attitude when it comes to advocating for yourself and the people you love. I'm learning a bit from her to have a healthy amount of self-centeredness (not sure that's really the right term). I think so often we are people pleasing, we forget there are many people who do not deserve our consideration.

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Primary Dx: C-PTSD and Severe Chronic Treatment Resistant Major Depressive Disorder
Secondary Dx: Generalized Anxiety Disorder with mild Agoraphobia.

Meds I've tried: Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Effexor, Remeron, Elavil, Wellbutrin, Risperidone, Abilify, Prazosin, Paxil, Trazadone, Tramadol, Topomax, Xanax, Propranolol, Valium, Visteril, Vraylar, Selinor, Clonopin, Ambien

Treatments I've done: CBT, DBT, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), Talk therapy, psychotherapy, exercise, diet, sleeping more, sleeping less...
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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 08:07 PM
  #10
Now that you have gotten educated about narcissistic behavior patterns, you will see patterns that others in your past exhibited too. This is part of how we can miss red flags and consider it as normal/familiar behaviors. Your father is probably unaware of his unhealthy behavior patterns. Unfortunately these patterns get handed down from one generation to the next.
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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 08:14 PM
  #11
Seesaw i was gonna say a lot of what you wrote but i was too lazy. i know, i am an idiot
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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 08:21 PM
  #12
"When your dad says things that are just like WTF, when you find yourself questioning why any human being would say that to you, that's your sign to end the conversation. And that's not a negotiation. It sounds to me like your father isn't a "safe" person for this kind of discussion anyhow"

Yes, I totally agree.

Recently dad went into a long tirade about the living hell he went through during the years mom was drinking.

I said, "You've been saying that for 30 years. Did you ever once, ever, ask what it was like for anyone else in the house?"

"Ah, RD. Why can't you just let bygones be bygones. Why do you keep dragging up the past?"

Then he tells my mom this, and she's wondering why I can't let go of the past!

I'M NOT THE ANGRY ONE AND I'M NOT THE CRAZY ONE!

Dang..... Now I look angry and crazy.

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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by RDMercer View Post
"When your dad says things that are just like WTF, when you find yourself questioning why any human being would say that to you, that's your sign to end the conversation. And that's not a negotiation. It sounds to me like your father isn't a "safe" person for this kind of discussion anyhow"

Yes, I totally agree.

Recently dad went into a long tirade about the living hell he went through during the years mom was drinking.

I said, "You've been saying that for 30 years. Did you ever once, ever, ask what it was like for anyone else in the house?"

"Ah, RD. Why can't you just let bygones be bygones. Why do you keep dragging up the past?"

Then he tells my mom this, and she's wondering why I can't let go of the past!

I'M NOT THE ANGRY ONE AND I'M NOT THE CRAZY ONE!

Dang..... Now I look angry and crazy.

RDMercer
So first of all, to THEM you look angry and crazy, and do you care what they think about you? That's the other part of the equation of advocating for yourself. Do you really care what this man thinks about you? Doesn't sound like someone whose opinion you'd really want anyhow.

And back to the conversation, when he opened with his complaints about your mom's drinking, that's a good way to understand the bait. You have to use medium-chill or grey rock, or whatever it is with these people. So when they get into their complaints, you can't have an actual conversation with them.

Quote:
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Recently dad went into a long tirade about the living hell he went through during the years mom was drinking.
A grey rock response would be: "Yes, I understand that was hard for you, you've mentioned it before."

No reference to you, and no encouragement to go on. You could also, if you're smooth enough, ask a question to change the subject, like "so what did you do this weekend?"

But these people are never going to care how you feel. So if you do want to continue any kind of contact without falling for the bait, it's always about redirecting back to them and not giving them any opening to turn the conversation on you.

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Meds I've tried: Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Effexor, Remeron, Elavil, Wellbutrin, Risperidone, Abilify, Prazosin, Paxil, Trazadone, Tramadol, Topomax, Xanax, Propranolol, Valium, Visteril, Vraylar, Selinor, Clonopin, Ambien

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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 09:59 PM
  #14
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Did I read between the lines correctly Eskie?

Did you tell me to get a dog?

RDMercer
Lol....only if you want one....ugh, my Aussie Shepherd puppy though totally loving requires so much of my attention just to keep him from destroying my house. More of a handful than kids

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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 10:14 PM
  #15
Part of the reason you canít let go is because you have relived your past in your own relationship. Your wife, like your mother is an alcoholic.

Your parents are still together. How old are they?
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Default Mar 19, 2024 at 10:24 PM
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Part of the reason you canít let go is because you have relived your past in your own relationship. Your wife, like your mother is an alcoholic.

Your parents are still together. How old are they?
And despite that your mom has stopped drinking, your dad is still a codependent enabler. He is what you would be if you had stayed with your ex wife.

I know you want strong family connections, but sometimes we just have to accept that our family unhealthy and the only kind of connection we can have is a superficial one. We can care for them but not get too involved.

I've been no contact with my biological father since 2015, I think. Well, there were a few limited moments of contact at my uncle's funeral a few years later. I can't have contact with him because he is unsafe and dangerous. But if his care came down on me, I would make sure he was taken care of in a safe nursing home. I wouldn't visit. But I'd make sure he's at least taken care of. Sometimes that's the most of a connection is safe.

I don't know what it's like with your parents. But it sounds like you'd have a better, more enjoyable relationship with LESS contact and without getting into anything deep in your life.

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Primary Dx: C-PTSD and Severe Chronic Treatment Resistant Major Depressive Disorder
Secondary Dx: Generalized Anxiety Disorder with mild Agoraphobia.

Meds I've tried: Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Effexor, Remeron, Elavil, Wellbutrin, Risperidone, Abilify, Prazosin, Paxil, Trazadone, Tramadol, Topomax, Xanax, Propranolol, Valium, Visteril, Vraylar, Selinor, Clonopin, Ambien

Treatments I've done: CBT, DBT, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), Talk therapy, psychotherapy, exercise, diet, sleeping more, sleeping less...
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Default Mar 20, 2024 at 08:04 AM
  #17
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It's just that all I want is peace and strong family connections.

My parents are old. I just wish I could enjoy them.

My dad just... concocts... these things that suddenly need attention or that I have to fix about myself or the kids.

I can be completely relaxed and, "We need to talk..."

Last summer, six months after my wife and I split, it was, "We need to talk. Your children need a mother.
There's been enough of this moping around. You should have already been looking for someone ."

If I say something like, "That's.... insane. Middle aged women with no histories or responsibilities who will move into my home and accept me and my children don't exist. And I'm still grieving. We're still unpacking the degree of abuse to the kids."

So.... That makes me difficult and impossible to speak to. I'm always angry. Hair trigger, ready to go off.

He's continued with that stuff, calling my competency as a parent into question.

Boom. Now we're done. I'm fighting for my kids in court, and you aren't safe to be around.

My father recently told me how terribly angry his older brother would get at him. I said, "Yeah, you've always said that. But he never came here. Those times always happened when you went to his house, and the fights were around his business, his kids, and his marriage."

Again.... Proof that I'm just difficult.

I wish I could suppress my reactions to him and this insane crap.
Thatís just what they told Cinderellaís father right before he married her wicked step mother! Your father thinks he is still in 1950.

Everyone here gave good advice and sees the patterns of narcissistic abuse.

Luckily, courts know what year this is. I hope you prevail and your kids get the outcome that is best for them.

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Default Mar 20, 2024 at 08:14 AM
  #18
Your thread reminds me of a Melanie Beattie quote I saw recently (paraphrased): " You cannot simultaneously set a boundary and tend to the other person's feelings."

If you need to put down a healthy boundary, you need to, but then you can't go on to try and justify yourself and placate them. And it might be uncomfortable, because a lot of us don't like doing that. We want everything to be okay and for everyone to be on the same page. Thing with narcissists, though, they do not want to be on the same page as you, so you'll never get resolution with them.

Another thing about narcissists, they don't like boundaries. Boundaries to the narcissist are like closed doors to cats- an absolutely unacceptable condition. They will trample your boundaries for nothing more than the sake of remaining in control. They don't care about your feelings

Rather than talk to him about something like why you won't date, maybe you just say, "I'll date when I'm ready." And leave it at that. He'll probably interpret that as hostile- because that's what they do- but at least with something like that you maintain a little more control of your space. You, unfortunately, have to have a bit of a thick skin if youre going to remain in contact with a narc.

I'll give you an example from my life: my MIL is very shameless and without boundaries. So much so that when DD got her own phone, she didn't want Grandma to have the number, for fear of the demands, guilt, and generally shameless behavior that she could perpetrate through the phone. Since DD didn't have the maturity or feel comfortable setting the boundary, I did it. Her phone is for safety. school work, and communicating with her friends about school- or that's how I left it with MIL. No justification, just a boundary. I've since gotten nasty, entitled texts from MIL (she's my granddaughter, I have a right to her phone number ). I don't justify the boundary just stick to it. As DD gets older, and gets ever better at enforcing her own boundaries, she can make decisions about how she wants to interact with grandma.

But here's the thing- what do you think she says about me? I'm controlling and manipulative. I drive wedges between people and cause problems. That's fine. It's not true, but she's never going to see the truth from my viewpoint, so there's no reason to waste time trying to make her see that. I put down the boundary for DD's sake and we'll being, now MIL has to deal with her own feelings. Out of my lane. I'm staying in my own lane.

Learning to deal with people who behave that way is a learned skill. Be gentle and patient with yourself, and you'll learn new, more effective ways of dealing with them. But mostly just take care of yourself and your immediate family, and recognize that his thoughts and opinions are just that..

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Default Mar 20, 2024 at 08:23 AM
  #19
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Originally Posted by Open Eyes View Post
Part of the reason you canít let go is because you have relived your past in your own relationship. Your wife, like your mother is an alcoholic.

Your parents are still together. How old are they?
Yeah, repetition compulsion is much more likely than limerance, i would say. I was going to say yesterday that it sounded like your dad was jealous of you, but i didnt understand why. Now i see it. "The sins of the father are visited upon the son." Not ON PURPOSE, they just ARE; like its inescapable that you meet with the same fate if the problems are not resolved in the prior generation.

Eta - armorplate - great story about DD and MIL. Now i see why your name!
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Default Mar 20, 2024 at 11:10 AM
  #20
Oh heck.... ArmorPlate isn't THAT tough.

Kinda like an M&M. Hard boundary, but soft inside.

"Can't see the truth from their viewpoint"....

This is something that drives me crazy. When you are gaslit so, so much, for so long, you get pretty defensive about "truth"

I'm left going.... "How can this be truth from my VIEWPOINT??? IT'S JUST TRUE!"

Example:
"Dad, quit bible thumping and just talk and be accountable."

"I don't bible thump, and I've never failed to be accountable, or take you back no matter what you've done to me. Just like in the story of the Prodigal Son. You're always welcomed home."

"Dad.... That is bible thumping, and you haven't accepted any accountability."

"I don't say anything about the bible. Quit putting words in my mouth."
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