You are currently viewing Is it you or them? – Part VIII

Is it you or them? – Part VIII

A big block to growth was guessing “is it me or them?”.  I didn’t realize how toxic shame cycles were.  I didn’t understand that some people are overly sensitive (me) while some are insensitive (at times also me).  I didn’t know this yen and yang was a trauma response.  I came to understand that trauma responses, left both people feeling wounded by one another.  I learned how to break shame cycles.  A huge error I first made when doing this work was to assume people felt and thought as I did. 

This error was costly and kept me stuck.  In simple terms I miscroped people and told them how they felt based on how I thought I would feel in their shoes.  I also assumed their intentions are what my intentions would be.  Both of these beliefs are false and were the cause of great understanding. 

Once I learned how to observe people and stopped superimposing my “ideal” of who I thought they were, or should be, then I started to untangle is it “me or them”.  So this next part is how to identify a narcissist personality type.  I chose this type because I was raised by a malignant one who all but destroyed my identify as a child.

Then I struggled with this more benign and vulnerable type for much of my life.  I also noted how I had mimicked some the N traits.  Even worse, intense stress triggered deep trauma responses that I was stuck in shame cycles and to which developed into N traits of my own – sigh!  This is what happens if we stay stuck in shame cycles, we will worsen and develop even more maladaptive ways of coping.

The hallmark of a narcissist is their lack of empathy. Their total self involvement, blocks their ability to connect the dots, of how their behavior damages their own interpersonal relationships. For example, they may overreact to a perceived wrong you engaged in, but will fail to see their own past wrong. They will judge you for being late, but fail to see how all their ‘late arrivals’ inconvenienced you.

Someone who is selfish and acts poorly will feel guilt, shame and be open to hearing how you feel. A narcissist is usually not able to consciously feel high levels of guilt or shame, nor high levels of empathy. So if you express your needs (not in line with their needs) they are most likely to get angry with you and find reasons you are at fault for expressing your own needs to them. 

They will have high expectations of you but are unable to receive feedback which they take as a personal attack while personally attacking you! Their expectations are often unrealistic but your reasonable requests of them will often be met with excuses as they justify away their own poor behavior. They can blurt out hurtful comments, make it all about them, all about how you wronged them, but should you have a single item on your list to address with them that is where the conversation will blow up.

They take hostages by being hyper critical of you. N’s Like to put people under the microscope and focus all their attention on what “you’ve done wrong”. They have to monitor you, judge you, watch you, have all their focus on you and then give you a list of all that you’ve done wrong. Meanwhile they are blind or oblivious to their own behavior.  We addressed the difference between overserving and microscoping in part VI of this series.

The dominant feeling of loving a narcissist will be a sense of loneliness. You may have moments of feeling connected, marked by periods where you feel all alone in the relationship. This is because the N will be focused on the next stimulating opportunity that has their attention. They will lack any real intimacy or presence with you. You are only important to them when you have something they want. If you are not capable of giving them what they want RIGHT NOW, then they flit off to the next person or thing they think will. 

N’s ‘disappear’ a lot. If an N Family members comes to visit don’t expect a moment of relaxation. They will suddenly leave to go to the store, go to the gym, go see about this or that so you find your actual time bonding to be minimal. Ironically, they still have micro-focus intel to gather a list of what you’ve done wrong during their flitting in and out. They may even accuse you of not being able to relax as they hop around moment to moment causing chaos in their wake.

The have no interest in your interest. So they will either not participate at all or make a big show of how displeased they are if they do go. They will incessantly complain when they are not getting what they want. It’s hot. It’s cold. There are bugs. It’s boring. they are hungry. They are tired. Suddenly, they don’t feel good. They will judge the people. Judge the experience and find a list of faults. Their negativity will bombard the experience to ensure you are not relaxed, then they will expect you to praise them for doing what you liked and judge you for not being relaxed! 

I would refer to N as the perfect “fair weather friend”. Many N’s are withholders, incapable of giving of themselves in a consistent or meaningful way. They are described as aloof because when sh’t gets real, they magically disappear and sometimes for months or even years. They can be described as cruel in sever cases, where they intentionally “withhold” money, love, attention, sex, children or whatever else they have power over to “punish” you. If you displease them, they will say they have to leave you for their own mental health! They won’t stick with working through an issue, where they acknowledge their part, because they’ve judged you and only see your part they want you to apologize for.

They may be great in a moment, maybe to plan something fun like a vacation or a party, but don’t expect to hold their attention for too long or for them to do more than plan ideas or do what is fun for them! Clean up afterwards, for example, or the required daily grind that is the fabric of any relationship, is where you will lose their interest. If they do it, it won’t be with a joyful attitude. 

Herein lies a key difference. We have a level of maturity and recognize that before, during and after “fun” there is work. Many of us use the “clean up” time to reminisce about how fun the party was, to use the clean up work as yet another opportunity to bond. The N will moodily and sullenly go through the motions, and most probably act irritated if you attempt to bond during this time. They are up in their head and not interested in bonding with you, because they are too busy being irritated about having to “do something they don’t want to”.

In short, due to trauma, N’s stopped maturing.  So their coping skills and emotional maturity have not developed through the infancy face.  Once we see this infant and their ‘theatrics’ for what they are, we can start to develop tools to untangle our core self with theirs.

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