Day 10-Collateral Damage and Crazy Making

Day 10

The demands of my narcissist were draining.  His needs gradually dominated much of a day in two ways.   Before I knew it, half of my time was spent responding to text, e-mails, and calls, the other half wondering what I had done wrong.  We could never make plans because it served as a way for him to frustrate, and control me.  He would say “I can’t plans with you, because if I don’t follow though your will go crazy.”  This idea of “you will go crazy…” is the first of many narcissistic mantras to justify the inevitable end, he is already planning.  (I have to remember that my narcissist started this relationship by planning the end of it, from the first hello.)  Why?  Because narcissists are mentally ill.

This continuous inability to commit to plans because of  the projected on to me ” I will go crazy, if plans don’t work out,” was one of the reasons I felt like I was living in a crazy haze.. What did going crazy mean to him?  If I noticed, and mentioned that our plans did not work out…I was acting crazy! As a result of this ongoing frustration, I tried to end the relationship time and again. It was at the point when I had said enough, he would promise to make plans and follow though.  Again,  I found myself having the same conversations.  I would say “Hey you said, and promised that we were going to do this or that.”  He would say, “You’re crazy, I never said that we were going to do this or that.” After a time I really began to question my sanity.  (This is known in the world of pop-psychiatric lingo as “gas- lighting”. I will talk more about this in a later blog).  It was like a slow corrosive acid drip into my brain.  In turn, I spent huge amounts of mental energy trying to understand what was happening in the relationship.  As a result, I neglected other parts of my life.  My family, house, bills, work, friends all suffered as the collateral damage of my involvement with this man.  I had to be honest and make a fair accounting of all the things I have neglected.  I made an action plan to make good on all ignored aspects of my life.   Each day, I gave myself an hour for paper work. I gave myself another hour for long overdue house cleaning. I scheduled an hour to get caught up with friends I had ignored. I made an hour for writing and so on. This process was difficult, but rewarding.

Your Assignment

Did your narcissist suggest that you are crazy or acting crazy? Make a list of all the times he directly or indirectly tried to tell you that you were crazy.  In addition, make a list of all the collateral damaged areas of your life.  Try to list small incremental steps to move yourself back into alignment.  For example; today organize office.  Tomorrow invite a friend you might have neglected out for coffee.  Keep your journal active. Do something to start reclaiming your life. Notice that you are more in tune with the conciseness of the day, not lost in the crazy haze.

Day 9-Fantasy verses Reality

Day 9

It is over. It has to be over. In the face of this most brutal truth, I still find myself looking at my phone and checking emails.  I wonder, is he is going contact me.  The thought of him still eats at me.  I am not out of the woods.  While I am reclaiming pieces of myself each day, I still feel lost.  Separated from him, I feel a huge void.  Why wasn’t I enough? I ask myself over and over.  I don’t know how it is possible that I could have given my love to such an illusion?  For decades, this mirage of a man, this fantasy has been measure by which I have evaluated all other men and relationships.  I had this image in my head of our “perfect” love. It was SO WRONG! Today, I took all my lists from the past few days and pieced them together.  On another paper, I wrote about my ideal mature adult love. These two list were entirely out of whack.  What was I thinking?

Your Assignment

This is a day to think about reality versus fantasy.  If you are codependent, or have codependent traits, much of what drives your inability to let go of him/her is the pathological fear of aloneness (suggestions to combat this in upcoming posts).  In addition to loneliness, you might be driven by fantasy.  Review your list and charts.  Compare the behavior, actions, and inactions of list and charts to your fantasy.  Make a plan to get together with a good and trusted friend or relative. Keep it real. Think about the difference between fantasy and reality.  Write about a “real” relationship. Make a plan to go to your local library.  There are plenty of books written on codependency and narcissism. Educate yourself.  Discover the difference between reality and fantasy relationships.  You CAN BE your best advocate.  Remember to fight loneliness, connections to other people.  To fight fantasy thinking, keep yourself grounded in reality.

Day 8-More on Reward and Punishment

Day 8

I gathered up all the cards, and romantic sweet gifts.  I realized his gifts were everywhere. Every time he would go on any kind of a trip, he would bring me back a small gift.  Some examples of these gifts were tea from China, chocolate from Belgium, perfume from Milan, or a knickknack from most domestic travels.  In addition, everyday gifts for no apparent reason other than just to give.  It was a steady gift giving stream. HE ESTABLISHED the gift giving stream, much like the communication place-holding pattern, I mentioned on day 7. Both went on for about a year and half.  The abruptly stopped. When I tried to talk to him about the change in his pattern, he was quick to tell me I am crazy, demanding and making problems.  When I was acting “right” at least how he wanted me to act he would reestablish the pattern of both communicating regularly as well as the gift giving.  Inevitably, the patterns stopped and started. If I made mention of it, the answer was always the same; there is nothing wrong, and I am crazy. The most notable non-gift and non-card exchange was on our second anniversary.  By this time, I didn’t bother to say a word. While he was generous, looking back, a very calculating kind of generosity to be sure.

I boxed up everything. I was not able to throw it away. It was an emotional event.  I put the box in a corner in my basement.  (I recommend do not read any of the cards).  I saw the therapist. I spoke of my grief. She understood.  I started crying when I left the boxing gym this evening.  I started thinking about him. I understand I am just an interchangeable cog in his ever turning clockwork.  However, how could I possibly feel so deeply about someone when my therapist assured me he was someone who is incapable of feeling anything for me? Was this a deeper issue? Why does it feel so familiar? This has been a full week of morning and evening work outs.  I need to go to bed. I need a good night’s rest.  I know I will feel better in the morning.

Your assignment

Get a box and start collecting all romantic cards, and gifts.  As always, I recommend getting into a group, or therapy.  The therapist helped validate not just my feelings of grief and lost, but also helped by explaining the patterns and behaviors of the narcissist.  Continue watching videos.  I recommend Sam Vatkin, (Narcissistic and compulsive gift giving).  Vatkin an evolved, clinically diagnosed psychopathic narcissist is articulate, and insightful.  Keep consistent with sleep, working out, and eating patterns.  Be kind to your body, at the very minimum get your rest. Watch Richard Gronnan Spartan life coach video on emotional dis-regularity.

Day 7-The Setup for Reward and Punishment

Day 7

He had a habit, and I welcomed a series of compulsive connections throughout the day.  I call this “place holding.”  I think of it as a kind of emotional conditioning.  It was his way of occupying my life, while expending the LEAST amount of effort.  More importantly, by creating an expectation, he offhandedly fashioned a means of reward and punishment.   He would robotically reach out every few hours, thus giving the ILLUSION of interest and attentiveness.  At 7 am, he would text a good morning greeting or forward a romantic love song.  By 10 am, he would forward an amusing news centered email, or story of interest.  At 12 or 1 pm, he would call for a quick hello.  At 3 pm, another kind of romantic icon, a simple smile or heart was on my phone.  By 6 pm, he would call as he drove out of the office, either going out for a “late” dinner meeting, or planning to stop by my house.  By 10 pm, he would send a scripted good night text.  This began from almost the onset of our relationship.  It was a pattern HE ESTABLISHED for almost a year and half.  In town, or out of the country, he was faithful to this schedule.  When out of the country, instead of forwarded news article, he would send me pictures.  Thinly veiled, yet forever bragging of about his successful and the royal treatment associated with his work- life.  Always underscoring the “real” intention for the pictures was NOT TO BRAG.  Rather these picture were the places, and events earmarked for OUR next trip adventure. Right! Of course all this communication, required my constant interaction, and attention in return. It occupied much of my day.  A year and half or so later, I became accustomed to this arrangement.  It was when I grew comfortable with the pattern, he began to stop and start the exchanges randomly.  At first when I noticed the messages stopped, I panicked.  I naturally thought something must be wrong.  (Exactly, as he had hoped!) He would claim I was acting crazy, demanding, and needy.  When I dug deeper, and was honest with myself, I discovered his true motivation.  He was punishing me.  The same way he did with gifts (more on gifts in next post).  In his absence, I realized this “place-holding” was a huge part of our relationship, or better stated my fantasy relationship.   Keeping busy during the “place holding” time intervals is imperative.  I changed the rhythm of my daily routine.

Your assignment

Are withholding behaviors familiar to you?  Are they farther reaching than the scope of this relationship? My guess is the answer is yes. If withholding, and punitive measures to elicit a “good behavior,”  has happened to you, or if you are not suer see if this applies to your relationship.

Chart the “place holding” time intervals.  Change the pattern of your daily routine so that you are busy during those times.  

Reflect on the patterns.  Ask yourself were place-holding patterns established and used as emotional carrots/sticks.  

Day 6-Goodbye Letter

Day 6

I wrote a goodbye letter.  The therapist told me to print it and know it. Remember, she warned me “YOU are implementing the NO CONTACT agenda.  He is NOT! The rules do not apply to this kind of person”, she warned.  Since I have no way of knowing what he will do or when he will resurface, I took the advice seriously.  I wrote, printed and highlighted all the important points of the letter.  I made sure to include the statements; this is my last correspondence; “I will NOT read or respond to any more text, emails or letters.  I will not listen to messages or return calls.”   Be ready to protect yourself at any given moment.  Plan exit strategies from all your known places.   There will be a time when you will get strong, it might not be today.  I needed to drive well out of my way to buy  groceries, get coffee and gas. I did not frequent my regular haunts.  I shared my new comings and goings with friends.  My friends were so thrilled that I ended things with my narcissist that they were willing to do anything and everything to help keep me stay safe.  In my research, one of one of my favorite people Sam Vatkin, a self-proclaimed narcissist became a voice of both salvation and reason.  I played his Youtube channel almost nonstop.

Your Assignment

Draft your goodbye letter, and memorize the key points.  You never know when he-she will resurface.  Be ready.  Plan your exit strategies. Continue therapy.  Watch Sam Vatkin or read his free down load “Malignant Self Love, The Narcissist Revisited.” Learn to defend yourself.  I chose boxing (as in pugilism)!  Learn to protect your heart as well as your body!

Day 5-Charting and Mood Cycling

Day 5

You are doing great! Congratulations! I know it still feels very bad.  Keep fighting.  Keep your distance.  Today, is a chart day to better visualize the ebb and flow of what you have been dealing with.  At some point in the relationship, I had started keeping track of all his moods, the ups the downs, the cycles. I tried to remember the patterns in order to understand what might be driving the wide spectrum in his reactions. In hindsight, it was almost predictable.  However, in living it from the highs to lows, it was intensely draining.   I started linking his secondary addictions which was primarily alcohol, secondary addictions including reckless driving, and compulsive shopping. I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride, thrilling at first but in time it just made me sick!  I have to be honest with myself about the addictions as well as the mistreatment.  He drinks every night.  It started off as just a glass of wine and maybe, a whisky after dinner.  Over time, it turned into two to four pre-dinner whiskies, a full bottle of wine as well as an after dinner drink.  Self-interest and  mood swings fueled with alcohol was a dangerous mix.  He was always ready to ignite the moment I said or did something “wrong.”  Like a light switch it would turn from great to tragedy.  I was forever policing my comments, thoughts and ideas.  If they were not in agreement with his, there would inevitably be a problem.

I remember one incident in particular; he asked me to read something and give him MY opinion.  I soon realized I would have been far better served to read it and give him HIS opinion.  The night dragged into a vortex of him telling me how much better his insights were over mine.  Finally, I agreed giving in to HIS appraisal.  I agreed not because I saw the true value of his position, rather I just could not deal with the emotional avalanche that came from not agreeing with him.  

Your Assignment

To try to better understand what you have been dealing with, chart the patterns of mood swings.   Once you have drafted some of the patterns, go the web and look up the “Cluster B Personality Types.”  Check out Richard Gronan Spartan life coach.  He talks about the different types of Cluster B behaviors.  Look up information on the “New Diagnostic Manual” and see if your partner’s behaviors falls in line with the criterion set in the manual.  While I was not qualified to render a diagnosis, I could certainly read the criterion and connect the dots.

Day 4-Pathalogical Language

Day 4

Ok, so I made my list of broken promises, and lies.  (Keep the list open-ended, the farther away from him the more lies will surface.)  The next list consisted of disparaging or mean spirited comment. It is more like pathological language, my narcissist was skilled at using language as a weapon. He veiled his words manifest guilt and shame. I bought into much of it, and as a result I felt confused, and deregulated. Confused and deregulated, I was easily manipulated. He would say, “I am saying these things, because I love you.” I held trust in his love for me.  I respected him.  So of course, I listened to his insights.   It was only from this safe distance, in therapy, that I allowed myself to really hear him.  These were some of his favorites…   “You’re acting like a wounded animal”.  “If you were really grateful for everything I have done for you, you would NEVER ask me for a thing”. “Why would I tell my old girlfriends about you?” “You are crazy, I can’t tell you the truth, you will go crazy”.  “I can’t make plans with you because if things fall through you will go crazy…”  You get the idea.  Along with this list, I thought of his comments that made me feel bad about myself.  For example, he would talk about my friends.  He would say of them, “This one talks to you like you’re the help”.  “That one is your friend because she feels sorry for you”.  “That one and this one are your friend because you are their lackey.”   I was not able to understand these were NOT the words of love.  With the help of therapy, I realized when verbally abused, rather than defending myself, I would binge eat.  Recognizing binge eating as a response to abuse gave me my first insight to stopping this really destructive behavior. 

Your Assignment

While this was not an easy list to make, it was by far one of the most powerful. Start your own, this list might take some time. Think about his-her language.  Words have power.  Did he compare you to animals or other women?  Were his-her comments about your life, friends, family, job veiled criticism aimed to deregulate your life? Were his-her insights about your world unfavorable?   Did you respond back argue or did you hurt yourself in some way? Check out Youtube narcissist survivor guy.

Day 3-Loneliness and Lies

Day 3

Since I am ahead of you in this process I see nothing wrong with giving you a few short cuts.  I know you feel alone.  This feeling of being alone as described by Ross Rosenberg (you can find his videos on Youtube.com) is called pathological loneliness.  It is a powerful feeling that can cloud thinking.  When you suffer from pathological loneliness the idea of separation from him-her (your narcissist) is overwhelming.  I felt very alone.

I gleaned from my research that a kind of symbiotic connection exists between the narcissist and the codependent personality. Remember, both conditions are trauma driven.  Both personalities are underdeveloped.  However, together (the narcissist and the codependent) still somehow they feel “right” to each other.  This makes the break-up extremely difficult for the codependent that is left in the wake of this paralyzing feeling of being alone.  As the days progress in my journal I will give more insight on the connection between the narcissist and his “type” of partner.  

In response, I learned to stay busy. I stay very busy.  I work out in the morning.  And in the evenings, I joined a boxing gym. Five night a week I train.  I go to therapy twice a week.  I keep a journal. I research. I go to church. I try and make plans with friends. This helped to defuse the initial separation as well as teaching me to defend myself.

Ok, back to day three and the lists; the first list was broken promises, today it is lies.  My ex-boyfriend lied as a matter of course.  This is why he was so difficult to catch.  If I had to guess, he lied because in part it was thrilling just to get away with it.  As a bonus, it was a way to deregulate my world.  It seemed to me, looking back, he lied about EVERYTHING, big and small.  Some of my favorites; he would lie about the ethnicity of people.  He lied about calls from ALL his old girlfriends that all swept in on one given day.  He lied about events related to his children, and his ex-wife.  He lied about his whereabouts, even when I caught him red handed. He lied about relationships with other people and invitations to events.  He lied about breaking plans, and lied about making them.  In short, it seemed if his lips were moving…he was lying.  It still helps to make the list, in part because when I was with him, it was really hard for me to tell if he was lying.  It was with the list in hand, and the guidance of therapy I began to see the lies.  It is ironic, everyone else could see the lies except for me.

Your Assignment

Make your list of lies and again show it to someone.  Abusers hate when they are exposed.  This is your chance to expose your truth.  If you’re not ready to share your list, at least write down a few people as possible confidants.  Look for a qualified therapist. and or codependent groups in your area.

Day 2- Broken Promises

Day 2

I started therapy. I signed up for as many hours as I could get!  I need to understand the past to safeguard my future.  I start listing some of the behaviors that frustrated me the most.  My first list was a list of broken promises.  I was with a very financially successful man.  In the course of two years and three months, he promised me the world.  He delivered very little.  And when he did deliver on his promises, it was with a side of profound hostility and resentments.  So here is my starter list; he said “Of course we are going to spend more time together.  In fact, I am going to take you to….Germany, Paris, the wine country, New York, Chicago, up north for a weekend.  In two years, we went away for two weekends.  Once with his family, and the other piggybacked on a work trip.  “Of course,” He promised me we were going to spend holidays together.  He would NEVER make plans.  The last holiday we did NOT spend together, when I asked to make plans, he said “Just because you don’t have a family that does NOT make me responsible for your holiday needs.”  He promised we were going to buy a house together, decorate it together; both he did without me. This was not only my the BEGINING of my first list, but the catalyst for my first conversation with my therapist.  Because he tried to make me think HIS BROKEN PROMISES were MY DOING, I felt misunderstood, and frustrated. Why in the face of overwhelming evidence did I think he was ever going to make good on any of these broken promises?  Moreover, how was I ALWAYS to blame?

Your Assignment

Make your list of broken promises.  Make a promise to yourself to show it to someone.  I suggest a qualified therapist.  However, if that is not an option show your list to someone you trust; a friend, a family member someone from your place of worship.  Keep the list handy as time goes by you will remember more.

Day 1- Madness Revield

 

Day 1

I am free falling.  It is difficult to breath.  I am frightened.  I feel alone. I saw it coming.  Why didn’t I get out sooner?  I knew. Everyone who knows me, knew.   I feel stupid.  However unglued I feel, I know nothing has really changed.  The only thing that has changed; I am no longer with someone who makes me feel really bad about myself, for having any kind of needs.  He is masterful in turning HIS inability to care for me, into MY shame.  Still, he is articulate, successful.  I can’t help wondering, could he be right?  I am confused, I guess that feeling confused is the only normal thing I have felt in a while.  I want to make excuses for him, but I know I am only hurting myself.   Love should never feel this bad.  And this feels really bad! I need an action plan.  I have to get into some kind of therapy.  I need to commit to change.  I feel desperate, yet a little relived.   I am going to do whatever it takes to help me gain control over myself.

I reflect on our time together; in the beginning, I felt complete.  I felt adored.  I felt loved, even when we had our disagreements. There was NOTHING like it! It was an amazing high.  However, as time went on I felt insecure, desperate, and alone.  He ignored and raged against my choices, desires, preferences, and needs. He hated my friends.  He disapproved of my parenting.   It was a series of troubling thoughts, actions, and inactions that brought me to this end.  My inner self panicked as the “worst” of us became our new normal.  I tried over and over to open some kind of dialogue as the relationship felt like it was slipping away.  He was quick to tell me nothing has changed; he would always follow up with his standard; “You are making problems…stop acting crazy or needy.”  Frustrated, I tried to end things time and again. Every time I tried to leave the relationship, he reverted back to his attentive, charming self.  “Just give me more time, I am going through a ruff time, we will be ok” he both declared and begged.  This would keep me satisfied for a time, but the cycles continued.  In time this cycling, became commonplace.  I cycled too.  It felt like this… The longer I invest the more alone I feel.  The more alone I feel, the more confused I become. I am lost even to myself. I know I have to get to get out, but I am also afraid, and confused.  By the end, I was more than ready to leave.  however, I was not fully prepared for what came next…

Your assignment

Write down all the reasons YOU think something is wrong.  Do not let anyone (HIM) tell you how you feel.  Ask yourself; do you feel alone, neglected, mistreated, and frustrated? Are you afraid to be alone?  Are you unhappy, confused, and crying all the time about your relationship but unwilling to let go of your partner? If you answered yes to any of these questions you might need to look deep inside yourself for answers. If you have ended a hurtful relationship or someone toxic has left you, and you want to go back;  make an action plan.  Even small changes make a difference. Wake up ten minutes earlier each morning and take this time to write or research. (I needed to do more) I joined a boxing gym.  I got myself into therapy.  I began, reading researching and journalizing.  However, drastic or not, changes are important to your healing.  Just a few more suggestions for change; take classes at the local library.  Start walking after work.  Reestablish a connection with your place of worship.  Reconnect with lost friendships.  Today, think about your plan of action. Write out some of your possible strategies.