The Difficulties and Rewards of Breaking Ties with Narcissists
(This is one of my most popular posts.)
Here’s a good post by One Angry Daughter, on reasons to go no-contact with a narcissist: Why a “Healthy” Relationship with a Narcissist is Not Possible
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 [email protected], 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.
But now I have proof because Richard and Tracy began stalking and trying to intimidate me, sent me an e-mail which made it glaringly obvious that they are both Cluster Bs, no doubt left about it.
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.
The comments in this blog post (May 3, 2009 post) by One Angry Daughter are very reassuring; one poster wrote,
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) the reason for her blog–and it’s 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.
Your Abusive Female Friend or Relative–What to do about it by Joyful Alive Woman: This link sounds very much like Tracy.
From Ben Leichtling’s Stop Toxic, Bullying, Abusive Pseudo-Friends:
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.