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Am I just unlucky to have 4 narcs intimately involved in my life?

(101 Posts)
Somethingtodo Thu 04-Dec-14 19:54:48

Maybe its because I only discovered what narcs were yesterday - and I have been futily (?sp is that even a word?) trying to manage these people all my life - it has been exhausting.

But it has been such a relief to see the pattern defined rather than remain immersed in the amorphous, disorienating, demoralising, shit storms they create.

1) sister A - this one I have been NC with for 3 years (best decision ever) because her behaviour was so extreme. Relieved I instinctively made the right decision.

2) sister B - another other sister I have endured and tried to manage - but have now decided NC is the only way.

3) My MIL who has been a vicious cow to me for 30 years since we first met when I was 17. She has been "nicer" to me in the last few years - with thro me the odd bunch of petrol station chrysants....as she needs me onside in her deteriorating old age (she is also an alcohlic)

4) A new boss at the place I worked for 23 years who overwork and bullied me to the extent that I end up resigning with severe menatl and physical health issues.

But as of today they are gone. I am just left managing the fall out - my own self esteem and the weak PA excuse for a df/dh that is my husband.

Maybe I am the common denominator ? Are they attracted to me? Or am I just unlucky to have been wrestling this lot for so long?

dadwood Thu 04-Dec-14 20:01:44

Hi somethingtodo

Are they attracted to me? - Well, the four you have described are all part of your family or work so no, it's just luck!

GoatsDoRoam Thu 04-Dec-14 20:02:05

It is likely that you were conditioned by your upbringing to accept pushy and unpleasable people who trample on your boundaries.

It also seems that, as you instinctively went NC with your sister(s), you also still have the healthy response inside you to tap into.

LineRunner Thu 04-Dec-14 20:04:24

What's the deal with your DP?

GoatsDoRoam Thu 04-Dec-14 20:11:26

The same people who raised your sisters also raised you (I'm assuming), so you all likely learned how to replicate, or accept, awkward behaviour. Your DH's own dysfunctional behaviour and dysfunctional family relationships probably also were something you subconsciously recognised.

So I do think it's nurture, rather than coincidence.

Since you've only just discovered narcissism, have you already come across enabling? It sounds from your description that that is what your husband is like. Enablers are the natural partners/offspring/accolytes of narcissists.

Somethingtodo Thu 04-Dec-14 20:51:26

I havent looked at enabling -- both his parents are alcoholics and his mother a narc - so he would be that. He is a man-child - v kind, laid back, etc BUT is so riddled with the fear of conflict (spent his childhood tap dancing around parents) that he cant address/confront any issues like an adult....so his parenting be a husband is pathetic and exhausting for me.

I am the oldest of 6 siblings - the other 3 I get on well with and they also have issues with the 2 sisters. We had an unusual childhood in that our father died when we were all v v young (I was 6, 2 sisters were 5&3)...my Mum didnt cope with the death - attempted suicide whilst pregnant....so we effectively lost 2 parents for a while....and whilst things got better and we were very loved there was of course an emotional injury at a very young age. I think we did learn to absorb or tolerate challenging emotional situations.

springydaffs Thu 04-Dec-14 22:50:32

My life also seems to have been knee-deep in narcs. Or alcoholics/addicts. I didn't have much choice about my two ugly sisters. I don't think my dad is a narc, just a thug. I have no idea what may be going on with my deeply troubled/disordered mum.

I married a terrifying narc (tautology!) and it was when I miraculously left him i first got a whiff there was a narc theme running right back through my life. Deep excavation ensued. NC with vile, savage siblings (phew!) though miss their children. And dogs.

Friendships end up being with what turns out to be well-disguised addicts. I do think it must be 'me' - though not my fault. Perhaps the narc deal is vast and it takes years to tunnel through it..

badbaldingballerina123 Fri 05-Dec-14 00:29:55

I think it's common to wonder if your the common denominator. Your not and your not ever responsible for their foul behaviour either. As dadwood says they are part of your family and your boss. I think it's rare there is ever just one narcissistic around and it can be a reoccurring theme.

Lots of people ( like me ) swap a narcissistic family for a narcissistic set of in laws. It seems normal and we are conditioned to cater to these weirdos. We never learnt healthy boundrys . If you've only come across narcissism yesterday you must be reeling a bit. Read all you can , Sam vatkin is particularly good and get some support. It's quite the ride and many people don't understand it. Things will get better for you from here.

Lulu3108 Fri 05-Dec-14 00:36:26

Psychopaths. Behavourial disorders. Sums up a narcisst.

springydaffs Fri 05-Dec-14 08:49:52

Sam Vaknin is the chap. I should re-read. Not the most attractive site but it's all there.

springydaffs Fri 05-Dec-14 09:04:26

When I say it's 'me' I mean I am so fucked up by narcs I don't notice huge red flags. Actually, I notice the huge ones, it's the little/huge ones that can sneak through under my radar. Largely because you have to relate to people and they can't all be narcs. In theory....

I made a friend about a year or so ago. We pursued a particular interest together, saw one another fairly regularly. We went away for a weekend together and that's where it became apparent she is an alcoholic. Proper alcoholic. Lots of behaviour that lined up, too - I had been feeling like an idiot when I was with her and I got confused, couldn't understand why I felt so stupid sometimes, not always. I gave her a wide berth for a while without making it obvious, rebooted my approach, and now we're seeing one another again but much reduced and I am completely in control. All under the surface. I could kick her to the kerb if I wanted to but I'll see how it goes. I just know there is no mileage in the relationship iyswim.

Somethingtodo Fri 05-Dec-14 09:47:18

Thanks all. I think I have learnt to be over-responsible and over polite so put up with shit for too long. It really is freeing to put these behaviours/people in a box - close the lid and fell justified throwing it in the canal,

What are the red flags?

Somethingtodo Fri 05-Dec-14 09:51:46

I do think that there should be a campaign to enlighten people - I would have walked and not endured 30 years of pain...with my boss I would not have considered her a fair and rational person who just needed a quiet bit of feedback....me doing this just ended my career (and nearly my life).

springydaffs Fri 05-Dec-14 12:31:59

So sorry to hear that, Something. Perfectly understand it, though. I have said about my narc ex that if I hadn't left him I would be dead. People say 'did he hit you?' thinking that is the only way I could be dead. But this type kills you from the inside.

You're going to have to do a lot of research about narcs and their behaviour. It takes a while to get your head around it all. But perhaps someone will come along with a list of red flags. You'd probably be better looking at the Out of the FOG website - it's all there. Sam Vaknin's site, too. Melanie Tonya Evans is a good resource (a bit woo but tbh we need all we can get and she knows her stuff, particularly recovery from a narc relationship). As Lulu says, narcs are psychopaths sad

BertieBotts Fri 05-Dec-14 12:36:38

There's a theory that where there are narcs in your family, you grow up "conditioned" to accept their behaviour to a certain degree and are "trained" in some ways in how to participate in their dance. I would say to have two sisters who are narcs it's likely there's also a parental figure in there as well, possibly an aunt/uncle or grandparent, but who knows.

CogitOIOIO Fri 05-Dec-14 13:23:50

Yes, you're unlucky. I don't really know about 'narcs' but the world is full of the selfish, the arrogant, the bullying and all sorts of other difficult people. They're everywhere and, unless you're really lucky, you're bound to be related to a few of them - law of probability.

I think, rather than spend too much time trying to analyse or categorise others, the energy is better spent having high standards, low tolerances and then asserting yourself. If the behaviour is poor ... no matter who it is ... reject it. It can be a risky strategy to stand up for yourself and it doesn't make you very popular a lot of the time but what price self-respect?

springydaffs Fri 05-Dec-14 13:43:01

I don't really know about 'narcs'

Lucky you. If you've been entangled with one you very much know 'about narcs'. It's essential we do know about narcs if we've had the very unfortunate experience of brushing up against one in whatever capacity in our lives. They leave a significant mark and it's often a lifelong job to neutralise that mark, necessitating significant intervention.

Different league entirely and, frankly, dangerous to think high standards/low tolerances are even going to touch the sides - yy good discipline to get those tightened up but thinking these will make a dent with a narc, or the effects of a narc, is laughable and insulting.

CogitOIOIO Fri 05-Dec-14 14:49:33

Laughable and insulting? hmm Having high standards and low tolerances is a baseline for any human interaction. Might mean standing up to someone or it might mean cutting them out completely.... depends on the severity of the situation.

springydaffs Fri 05-Dec-14 18:20:12

That would depend on whether you're interacting with a human. They look like one and act like one but there's nothing inside.

anyway, drop it, Cog. With all due respect you don't know what you're talking about when it comes to narcs.

badbaldingballerina123 Fri 05-Dec-14 19:20:03

I'm familiar with narcs and I get what cog is saying. Whether they are a narcissistic , psychopath or just plain weirdo , if your boundrys are high enough they're not going to be tolerated or engaged with. All narcissistic people identify themselves fairly early on. I don't believe they are wolves in sheep clothing who are masters at deception.I think they're quite stupid.

Rather I think it is the case that those dealing with them deceive themselves. People are aware of that rude comment but let it go. They notice that strange incident but make excuses. They're often aware this person has an unpleasant side but think they won't unleash it on them. There's often a need for approval or validation or maybe someone is too nice.

They do attempt to deceive us , but overall we deceive ourselves. I don't think some of the reading material about them is helpfull , often they are described as something powerfull , menacing and potentially not of human form. While some of them are dangerous , I think the majority of them are like stupid children. They test , and if they can , they will proceed.

The following article sums it up I think and this is what I now do. If I feel uncomfortable I will address it or leave. I won't allow someone to take the piss no matter where we are or who it is. I recently went to a party where I was meeting significant people for the first time. A person there immediately started making inappropriate comments and I was in that awful position where I was expected to laugh it off because it was apparently a joke and it was in public. At one time I would have but not now , and while I suspect people thought I was a bit over the top , I couldn't care less.

shrink4men.com/2011/07/27/fortifying-your-fortress-healthy-boundaries-are-your-best-defense-against-abusive-high-conflict-personalities/

CogitOIOIO Fri 05-Dec-14 21:57:53

I am very familiar with narcissism as it happens. But I think a lot of behaviour gets wrongly lumped under the term 'narc' in the same way thin people get labelled 'anorexic' or tidy people 'OCD'. Having high standards and low tolerances doesn't change the person displaying the behaviour, of course it doesn't. That would be to miss the point. It's always about self preservation.

springydaffs Sat 06-Dec-14 00:16:13

I found it offensive that you made those assumptions, Cog. Normal rules don't apply with a narc - and there are REAL narcs around, who very seriously harm and destroy. This is what is being discussed here, not pseudo narcs.

BadBalding - you need to write a book. You have the distance (and experience) needed to lay it out as a sound reference point. A bit like a bible! re not all of us can achieve it but it's something to aim for.

CogitOIOIO Sat 06-Dec-14 08:22:40

They can't be said to be 'real narcs' with an actual personality disorder unless they are diagnosed as such. The people the OP is describing - like many others - will have a narcissistic streak and may even have NPD. But I'm not a doctor and suspect you aren't either.

Still.. you appear determined to be offended at the idea that people should be assertive, uncompromising and retain self-respect in the face of any kind of bad behaviour.

BertieBotts Sat 06-Dec-14 08:33:31

I get where Cogito is coming from here. She's not saying stay and try to change a narc, but to have high standards for behaviour yourself and stay away from people who compromise those, rather than trying to categorise them first.

I'd agree with that, although I did find it helpful to read about narcissism - it just helped me understand that I wasn't going mad. The thing with narcs (and other abusive people) is that they don't make it simple to hold up those high standards, or walk away. That's easy when you're clear-headed, not so much when you're stuck in the "FOG".

Perhaps NPD is a bit over-diagnosed on the internet. But if it helps people to dissociate, to realise it's not me, it's them, to hold up those three principles - assertive, uncompromising and respect for yourself (although assertiveness doesn't tend to work on suspected narcs and it's safer to skip straight to self-preservation) - does it matter what the individual person assigns in their own head as the reason? It's not as though they're planning to cart said person off to the doctors and have them locked away. It just helps you to feel clearer in your own head, put the pieces together, understand that other people have been through a similar experience.

CogitOIOIO Sat 06-Dec-14 08:49:31

'does it matter what the individual person assigns in their own head as the reason?'

I think it can matter. It can be helpful on one level if the victim of the behaviour gains understanding and chooses to disengage and save themselves, but once something is labelled as a 'condition' there is also a fairly natural tendency to show sympathy. I'm simply saying that rather than trying to psychoanalyse the bullying employer or the irrational sister or the vicious MIL and have to pin a label on before standing up for yourself, detaching, rejecting or whatever .... skip to the end. Save yourself the bother.

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