As a person with NVLD (similar to Asperger’s in many ways), I have trouble reading body language, which left me vulnerable to a couple who I believe to both be narcissistic sociopaths (story here).
Because I was so vulnerable, I didn’t understand why my wonderful, sweet best friend would turn on me so suddenly and betray me (and, with his wife, begin stalking me later), leading to a long, drawn-out, painful process of healing and recovery.
Over the years, a part of me has held onto the hope that one day, he’ll repent and come to my husband and me, looking for forgiveness and renewed relationship.
This despite the fact that he strangled and asphyxiated one of his kids shortly after we broke off relations with him and his wife. The little girl reported him to the police and he was convicted.
Now his wife, I knew early on that she was a danger, which is why I resisted her attempts to force me into a close friendship with her. (Normally it’s easy for me to befriend the spouses of my friends.) Over time I finally got a word for the danger: narcissistic sociopath. One day, I even saw her sociopathic smile of glee when an enemy (who, by the way, used to be a friend) had done something terrible.
But him? A sociopath? The more I learned about narcissists, the more I could believe he was one, but I thought he was one of the lower-level narcissists, incredibly self-centered but not out to actually hurt anyone.
But it seems I was wrong. When he choked his kid, the newspaper published his mug shot on its website. There was no remorse in that face, just anger, even contempt. A couple of years later, I got a disturbing e-mail from these people which said I “don’t have all the facts”–which made me wonder, What the heck kind of fact can excuse that you choked your kid in a fit of pique because she wasn’t cleaning up?
Just as I did with the first mug shot, I studied the new mug shots, trying to identify the expression on his face, a difficult thing with NVLD. I can get common expressions just fine, but the more subtle ones are harder to catch and understand. I used websites on facial expression and was pretty sure it was contempt. I also saw posts on sociopathic smiles, but when they’re just words or just a couple of pictures, it can be harder to be sure if that’s what you saw.
Then Lucky Otter published a blog post with both descriptions and lots of pictures of various forms of the sociopathic smile. For example:
Jack Brown, MD, is a physician who is an expert in reading body language and facial expressions. He said there is a particular expression that sociopaths and malignant narcissists use much more frequently than normal people: what he calls the Elevated Central Forehead Contraction with a Partial (Insincere) Mouth Smile. It’s a closed mouth, fake smile with the eyebrows drawn together as if the person is frowning. It’s similar to a smirk, but not quite. The overall effect is mocking condescension and cruel contempt. Brown says this expression is used often by serial killers, mass murderers, hardened criminals, and by everyday bullies and other people who lack empathy.
I highly recommend reading the whole post, of course; this little snippet doesn’t do it justice. Anyway, thanks to this post, I pulled out the mug shots again, this time showing one to Lucky Otter.
Her verdict? Sociopath–complete with subtle smirk and dead eyes.
Dang, I was so fooled by this guy. Even to this day, I’ll think back to things that happened and think he’s not so bad, deep down, and just needs to repent and things will be fine. I’ll think he just needs to get out of the sociopathic control of his abusive wife, and the real Richard will come back out again. Heck, he wanted to be a priest!
…Er, yeah. He can’t be now, because of the choking incident. Think of the bullet that the Orthodox Church dodged here.
Especially with this couple *still* stalking my blog all these years later (a bunch of times just in the past couple of weeks), and now with a new group of sociopathic/psychopathic/abusive trolls stalking me here and on Twitter, sometimes I wonder if I should just remove everything I ever wrote about this couple and other abuse stories as well. You know, for protection against whatever these creeps might be contemplating.
But then I think, No, people NEED these stories. Victims and potential victims NEED to know what narcissists/sociopaths/psychopaths/other abusers are capable of, so they can protect themselves from future abuse, and heal from the past.
And that means putting my own story on the Web, dirt and all, without trying to sanitize it like some people might. Saying “I never did anything at all wrong when dealing with my abuser” will not help you or other victims learn how to protect themselves. And there may be times where I don’t recognize what I did wrong, but other people will, and that can help them figure out what to do in their own situations.
So yeah, I don’t post this stuff just to help myself feel better. I also post it to help others, because this problem is rampant in today’s society. And check out Lucky Otter’s post to help you spot these people before they rip out your heart.
Comments are turned off because this is a reblog–and because I’m still being watched by these people.
This one questions whether or not a narcissist is doing it on purpose–saying that if he really means to hurt somebody, it’s probably anti-social (sociopath), not narcissistic. I found this interesting because it counters the common claim on many sites that the narcissist does it all on purpose to hurt and use you. Maybe the Narcissist Sociopath does, or the Malignant Narcissist (basically the same thing), since narcissism there co-exists with sociopathy/anti-social disorder. But lower-level narcissists would basically be highly sensitive–at least, to their own needs, not to yours:
There is disagreement in the comment section over the advice in the following article, because you basically stop standing up for yourself, and commenters believe this will make you lose your self-esteem. I did have a similar thought. But the writer says the advice is meant to de-escalate fights with someone you can’t or don’t want to just leave. So use your own judgment:
[Originally posted here: https://nyssashobbithole.com/main/tracy-part-93/. This started out as a Facebook note posted in December 2011, meant to explain to my friends (including mutual ones with my abusers) why it was so hard for me to just forget Richard and move on. It turned into a much larger blog post when I began adding more and more to the note. At that time, my blog did not have the details of my story publicly posted, as it does now. Written Tuesday, December 27, 2011.]
Some friends just drift in and out of your life. Some hurt when they drift away, but you deal with it and move on. Some may anger you so much that losing them doesn’t bother you. Losing a friend is not easy in any case, but it’s far more difficult when it was that one extra-special friend, the kind that’s so rare.
All my life I had wanted the elusive bosom friend that Anne Shirley spoke of. The friend who sticks with you for life, not a romance, not sex or marriage, which I already have, but a platonic friend. Frodo/Sam.
I’ve made close friends, but then somebody would move away, or classes/lunch periods would change. I wanted such a friend right here in my own town, not many miles away, separated for so many years that the friendship remains, but the closeness inevitably suffers.
I thought I finally found that friend when this one moved to my town. I had just prayed for a friend a few months before. Jeff and I both liked him and I thought he was that friend, an answer to prayer.
I considered him my best and closest friend. He’s the one who helped light my way when I searched for the True Church, the original doctrines. He had already found it before I did.
We had similar backgrounds, and similar views of the various churches. We could sympathize with each other about going through contemporary church services.
We could discuss Orthodox theology with a similar base knowledge and interest; we could discuss the meaning of original sin, or whether River of Fire is a good source of Orthodox doctrine;
we could discuss what it means to experience the Holy Spirit;
I could ask him about various things, such as why the English translations of the Latin and Greek versions of the Nicene Creed are so different, even the parts that come from the original Ecumenical Council that produced them;
I could share with him Orthodox writings, and give him Orthodox books and icons for Christmas or birthdays.
I could tell him what led me away from Western doctrines, without feeling judged for turning to “heresies.” I simply don’t have another friend with whom I can discuss all these things, at least not from the same background, baseline knowledge, amount of interest and same denomination.
I asked him about difficult points of Orthodox doctrine or practices; I asked him how to forgive people who had hurt me years before; I lamented to him about Net Orthodoxy and its legalism.
He was my spiritual mentor. He was the one I always wrote to with details of church meetings or services which had been especially interesting. Who else can I write these things to, who has the same level of interest? I wrote to him about my church because he was the one who led me there. And these things led to sharing about our life experiences and troubles.
I told him my secrets, and he told me his. He was my counselor, as I poured out my heart to him about various issues I was dealing with, and details of how I’d been bullied growing up, and how I’d been used and abused by college exes, including private details which I did not normally tell anyone, because of their nature. I told him these things because I trusted him completely, was comfortable with telling him.
I told him funny stories of things that happened day-to-day, or dreams. I shared with him thoughts about movies I watched, books I read, life stories. We talked for hours at a time.
He lived with us for a time, so became like part of the family, like an adopted brother, so I could tell him things I didn’t tell other people. We could joke back and forth with each other and play off each other so easily that one guy once said, “I love it when you guys are here!”
He and I went on religious websites together and defended Orthodoxy. And he and I also had similar tastes in music, both loving the obscure Goth genres, 80s, New Wave–and yet knowing some of the same Christian artists as well. He had actually been a Goth, while I was interested in Goth culture, did as much “Gothyness” as I could do in a small city in the Midwest.
Because of our similar backgrounds, we both knew about the Thief in the Night series, Left Behind, and other such things. We were even the same age, so had the same nostalgia for TV shows or movies we grew up with. We both liked watching EWTN. We were both interested in paranormal investigations.
It just seems impossible to replace him. These were elements of our friendship which I found especially valuable and important, especially appealing, and these were the reasons I was so attached to his friendship.
Every time something comes up that before I would write in a quick e-mail to him, I wonder, Is there anyone I can tell this to? Sometimes I can, but many times, I can’t. So I start wishing I could write that e-mail to him, because nobody else would understand, or nobody else is privy to those things.
Where else am I to find someone like this? I try to remind myself of all the violence, the self-seeking, the betrayal, yet I’m left with this gaping hole that it’s impossible to fill with anyone else, as if he were a car or a computer that can just be exchanged for something new and better.
And that, more than anything, is why I just have not been able to get over our friendship.
That’s why I still haven’t let go of the hope that one day, somehow, some way, he will repent and come back to my husband and me, ready to abandon the violence and arrogance that pushed Jeff and me away, ready to start anew.
That’s why I’m filled anew with grief every time I see him at church, he says not a word to me, and I feel I must avoid him, push him away, because of his violence and betrayal, because I can’t trust him.
I barely make it through the service without collapsing in a puddle of tears. Trying to keep in Orthodoxy, also, has become very difficult, because everything about it reminds me of him. Sometimes I’m tempted to just give all of it up.
Nobody can help me because the friendship I had was so rare, so hard to find again, and not something you ever get over. You can’t just go out and find another one just like it; it takes time and coming across just the right person at just the right time.
And I don’t even know if he misses us or regrets what happened, if he only keeps away because he’s (justifiably) afraid of my husband’s anger at him over all the things he did, or if he just doesn’t care. If he truly misses us, or just misses playing D&D with Jeff. If he remembers all the kind things we did for him.
And the most tragic thing is, I have no clue what happened. The winter of 2009-2010, everything was fine between us all. I don’t recall much bullying of me going on at that time, I was led to believe that the wife had long since stopped holding her inexplicable and irrational grudges against me, and everything was fine.
But somehow, over the spring of 2010, for no reason I ever knew, they just both started being mean to me.
But as for him–I don’t know that I’ll ever get over what he did, unless he stops justifying his behavior and comes to me, and repents. Forgive perhaps, eventually, but lose the hurt feelings? Stop feeling betrayed by my best friend? Stop wishing that he would do the right thing? Probably never.
For the time being, I feel like I’ve gone back into the shell which I had been emerging from, afraid to share too much, afraid that I’ll make new friends and love them only to find that they’re abusive as well, afraid about every move I make because maybe they’ll think I’m horrible for being so quiet, or they’ll accuse me of stalking or being annoying or some other horrible thing. I didn’t use to be so scared of these things.
And I’m also afraid every week of seeing Richard and/or his wife at church, because they do show up on occasion, leaving me nervous, shaken and afraid of what rumors they might try to spread, or of them wanting to make some sort of confrontation.
Church used to be my refuge, but because they are so close to it, I fear they will show up in my life again some time in the future in some way. I stay away from their church, and wish they would stay away from mine.
Every day, I’m haunted by the memory of how they bullied me, how a trusted and beloved friend betrayed me, the abuses that I witnessed.
I don’t think there’s any coincidence that the great army of us who discovered that our own brokenness was a result of narcissistic abuse came about a mere ten or twenty years before this conscienceless, sociopathic cabal of self serving narcissists, con artists, criminals, and their flying monkeys (enablers and sycophants) rose to take power over our nation and maybe the world. I truly believe that as painful and unfair as our suffering was, if we were able to recognize it for what it was and escape from it, we are the ones with the right sort of training and emotional resilience to lead the fight against the darkness that is threatening to destroy the world. It’s a kind of holy war, but it has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with good versus evil, and because we got to see firsthand in our own families of origin (or our abusive marriages or other close relationships) how damaging and pernicious this type of evil can be, we have a huge advantage over most of seeing through to the truth of things (and where there is truth, there is goodness and justice).
Her reasons are so true. I have learned in my own life, dealing recently with two people with Cluster Bs (narcissistic, borderline, histrionic, high-conflict personality disorders), that they do not change, do not accept responsibility, will just keep blaming you for everything wrong if you stick around.
I felt guilty for so long for cutting these Cluster Bs out of my life, often wondering if I did the right thing–
–but as I discovered a couple of years later, they were still blaming me for everything wrong, still justifying their own Cluster B rages and abuses, still crossing my boundaries of insisting that I be treated with respect and kindness.
While a layman can’t make an official diagnosis, a layman still has to deal with the behaviors of abusers, whether the abusers ever get diagnosed with Cluster B or not.
And if all the behaviors are there, the abuser must be treated as if they were officially diagnosed: In other words, cut them out of your life and don’t look back, without feeling guilty.
An official diagnosis only gives an official stamp on the behaviors of this person; it does not create them. An undiagnosed Cluster B is still a Cluster B, still causes destruction, and his victims need to act as if he had been diagnosed.
Or to put it another way, an abuser is an abuser no matter what’s driving his actions.
As Shrink4Men’s Tara J. Palmatier puts it in the comments here:
Diagnosing an individual with a personality disorder can be difficult for several reasons:
1) PD’d individuals tend to lie/minimize/blame others/portray themselves as victims to therapists. They can be very proficient at playing the sweet, injured party and as such, are able to fool a lot of people, even well-trained therapists.
2) They often refuse to acknowledge their problems, blame others and drop out of therapy once the therapist starts to recognize the real issues and tries to make the PD’s behavior the focus of treatment.
3) Many therapists, even when they strongly suspect/believe the individual has a PD, do not give them the diagnosis for a variety of reasons.
This video, “NPD and BPD” by DelusionDispeller@gmail.com, on the differences between NPD (narcissism) and BPD (borderline), makes Tracy sound more narcissistic than borderline.
It even goes into breaking the BPD’s rules without knowing what they are–which sounds very familiar.
It also says that when you break up, the BPD is more likely to try to get you to reconsider, while the NPD is more likely to say “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out” (Tracy’s reaction).
Many of my clients and participants on Shrink4Men comment on the overlap of narcissistic and borderline behaviors in their wives, girlfriends, exes, parents, and siblings, etc. This is because narcissism is very frequently present in individuals with BPD. –Dr. Tara, The New Face of Borderline
I had my own experiences and the testimonies of Richard and Todd to go by before, saw how well they fit in with all the traits of Cluster B.
I did the right thing in cutting these people off, sized them up correctly. If I had stuck around instead of ending the relationship with them, they would just have continued their abusive behaviors, and sucked my soul away.
I see clearly that I lost nothing of value, that Richard was no true friend. Now, without them–and knowing that I was correct about them and did the right thing–I can go on with life, much happier without them.
Because of the psychological “spell” which narcissists put you under, you begin to think you can’t live without them. Maybe they are your lover, your mother, your best friend, or some other such relationship which you feel you can’t break off.
But it isn’t true. It may hurt for a time, just like cutting off a diseased limb, but eventually it will get better, life will return to you.
For example, I felt forced to cut my best friend out of my life, only to discover later that his character was not what I thought it was, because of a horrible, violent act he committed (choking his daughter to unconsciousness) and was convicted of after the friendship breakup–
–and the lack of remorse he showed for this act, in the e-mail he and/or Tracy wrote to me. The truth of his character was forced to my notice.
My husband Jeff says Richard is afraid of me because I know about this and so many other things he’s said and done, and that he wants to keep me under his thumb.
Not only am I much happier not dealing with his wife’s constant dramas, but I am now making friends with a person who has many of the traits I so admired in my former best friend–but none of the narcissism.
This is a fellow parishioner who has the piety and zeal of a convert while being cradle Orthodox, and knows about our faith’s theologies and oddities such as the toll house controversy, is someone I can talk to about such things.
He posts quotes from various saints on Facebook. He listed Goth music in his Facebook “likes.” But he is against getting too concerned about outward form such as headscarves and pews.
He’s shown no signs of extremist politics; he posts about religion, not politics, on Facebook; he voted the same way I did the other day. As far as I can tell, he has no violent past, and eschews violence.
Through him I’m also making new friends who interest and amuse me, who want to convert to Orthodoxy, so we can relate to each other. I feel my zeal for God returning.
It’s almost as if God is telling me, Don’t worry, I really am here, I just needed to get this false friend out of the way so you could make much better friends–and reconnect with your true, old friends.
I go to parties or get-togethers with old friends, meet up with my old roommie, and it’s fun. People are free to be themselves; nobody judges me harshly for being a shy, quiet person with little oddities.
One friend will flirt shamelessly with me, and his wife and my husband just laugh at the silliness of it all.
My old roommie does social work and is a liberal; she can relate to my outrage over child abuse.
Another old friend is a preacher, but also a liberal with a huge heart, and very silly at times; he’s fun to chat with on Facebook. I can tell him I just watched a Muppet movie, and thought of him.
Another old friend told me he used to be passionately in love with me back in high school but never had the courage to say anything.
I’ve comforted someone who was dealing with an abusive marriage. I’ve connected with a cousin (by marriage) who went through a painful breakup with a narcissistic girlfriend at the same time I went through this painful friendship breakup, and who has Asperger’s, so we relate to each other in many ways.
For a while, Hubby and I went to SCA dance classes in the neighboring barony, before they moved on to fighter classes instead.
We’ve traveled. My husband found a new, fun group with which to play D&D.
My husband finally found a good-paying job, with health benefits, right here in town. I’ve been making friends with other parents at my child’s school.
Though for a long time it seemed like I could not go on without my former best friend, like I just wanted my life to end, I’ve slowly been breaking free of his narcissistic hold over me.
Which is good, because recent events have shown me that he is a full-blown narcissist, not a true friend at all, not capable of being the kind of friend I once thought he was.
Here is a blog post written by a guy who used blogging to realize what really happened during his relationship with his probably borderline ex, and get over her. He’d been so beaten down by her that it took this step for him to remember the truth. Some quotes:
Finally, one thing that this exercise also helped me with was confronting false nostalgia. “Maybe it wasn’t that bad. Maybe I was really to blame after all.”
When those thoughts come into your head (and even now, they still do for me, occasionally), go back and read the story you’ve written. Remember, this is your narrative – not hers. Things were that bad.
You’ll remember that pretty quickly—and you’ll never want to let yourself fall into that trap ever again. Write it out. And remember: You get to….
As I write this, I’m approaching 2 years of no contact with the ex. I am by no means “all better.” I don’t know if I ever will be. But if I’m not “all” better, I’m at least better than I was two years ago at this time.
I hope this post and other posts I contribute will be more like postcards from the voyage. I want to say “the voyage back to wholeness,” but that would be an assumption.
It may seem impossible now, but you must cut off that Cluster B, regain your own memories of what happened, research Cluster Bs, learn how to reject the abuser’s words and cuts at you (such as Tracy’s rages at me) as mere sewer sludge to be washed off.
Eventually, you will get to the point where you can say to your bully/abuser, as Sarah did to the Goblin King, “You have no power over me!”
I can now laugh at Tracy and Richard trying to call me crazy, knowing that I’m actually quite sane and that life is again good.
Angry, I love this blog, you, the whole concept of blogging to “get back” at selfish people anonymously, get it out of your system.
Sometimes I just tell people in your situation, You gotta’ blog, get support on the web, there are people in your EXACT situation. And here you are, doing it.
But maybe there’s a direct way to get to them, too, a therapeutic approach for all of the fam. I just started reading so if that’s impossible, don’t get angry 🙂 at me. Just sayin, people can change, it can take a while, no doubt.
OAD writes in “My Man”(Update: probably in the comments, which are not archived) that her reason for her blog is the same as mine:
I think venting about NM (narcissistic mother) is a good thing, but perhaps look for a different outlet for that venting besides DH (dear husband).
A journal, blog or one of the DONM (Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers) message boards are a great place to get it all out. I started this blog to spare my DH and my friends. I know they are supportive, but I think the topic gets old and there comes a point to move on.
Toxic, righteous, controlling, bullying, abusive pseudo-friends usually don’t change. The relief and freedom you feel when you clear them out of your environment tells you that it was worth the effort. You’ve reclaimed your spirit and your life.