Monday, March 18, 2024

How I'm avoiding narcissistic abuse by believing someone when they show me who they are

So yesterday I wrote about how I'm relooking at things my parents gaslit me into believing I did and which were wrong. Today I'm going to share how I'm overcoming narcissistic abuse by believing not what people tell me but show me they are.  

I told you all about the incident when my stepfather verbally and physically assaulted me because I couldn't find my baby when I came to pick her up from their house. He had fallen asleep and assumed she was on the bed where I'd put her for her nap. She wasn't and I was worried. I was not angry and did not act angry. I did not accuse anyone of anything nor even think to. My first worry was that she'd fallen off the bed because she was beginning to roll. I explained this but he would hear none of it and blasted me. For worrying about my baby. I immediately felt guilty because that's what I do when someone gets mad at me. I believe I've done something wrong. Mind I still hadn't found the baby. 

So that was odd enough. But what happened afterwards was terrifying. In desperation, I went looking around the block and found my sister taking her for a walk. When I returned, was he pleased that we'd found her? No. Did he apologize for yelling at me for being worried? He did not. He had been chewing on it and telling himself a bunch of shit and was in a towering rage. With a bunch of weird gaslighting word salad, he accused me of not trusting them, of being a bad daughter, of taking advantage of them. Of mistreating my mom. This from the one who has routinely abused and hurt me, since we met.  

I'm sobbing the entire time and babbling incoherent apologies. But as with all narcissistically abusive bullying this only fed him. Finally, he pushed me out the door, with the baby in my arms, and said "take your kid, get the hell out of my house and don't come back."

I was so terrified I think I wet myself. I went home in shame. I don't think I even tell my husband the full story. Which is probably good because he would have gone over... dealt with it. Anyway. That's also not the weirdest part of the story. Bill always was a little unhinged and this was not out of character. It was my mom's response. 

So you're probably wondering, sheesh, what did she have to say about all this? She must have been furious with him, right? Nope. Did she tell him to get out before she called the police? No. Did she apologize to me? No. Did she say "honey,  maybe it would be best to stay away for your safety?" No. Did she even make an excuse for him (bad enough)? No. She found a way to weaponize this for  her own narcissistic ends. And she did it with her very own special sauce, where she screws us all but has us blaming each other.  

Grammy Dearest made it all about her. First, she was sad she wasn't going to get to see her granddaughter because of him but he was within his rights to abuse me because it was his house. And she ever-so-fake-gently reminded me that, after all, I had caused the problem and insulted them (?) And that I wasn't welcomed over until "Bill was ready." These three words alone enrage my husband. So she told us what each wanted to hear, or well, what Bill wanted to hear and I guess what she thought I wanted to hear (that she'd miss my daughter, so generous of her) then completely backpeddled and ran us down.  

But she was the one that was hurt. Shame on us for putting her "in the middle." I find that people who say that have frequently put themselves there and enjoy it very much or aren't really in the middle at all as they've already taken sides. The one caught in the crosshairs was me, having the misfortune to get stuck in her spider's web of crap. 

But that wasn't the most bizarre part. That came later when he wrote me a note to apologize. My mother loves to tell how Bill has barely a 4th grade education and his handwriting is "childish." She gets extra narcissistic bonus points by making him look stupid all the while appearing so benevolently tolerant of his "ignorance." It's still not the weirdest part. 

I treasured that note because I knew it wasn't easy to write, both physically and emotionally. Backing down is not a forte of Bill's. A few months later, after my mom had been to church and was a on a religious-high, said her minister shared how his kids had told him what a great legacy he'd left them. She wanted to know what legacy she'd left me. 

Cricket. cricket. Now I was still under the illusion that my mom was essentially a caring mom, just misunderstood and that I was a wretch. But I wasn't that deluded that I could answer her question without some mental gymnastics. I couldn't say the truth which was "legacy? abuse, exploitation, neglect, manipulation, gaslighting, take your pick." So I cast about for answer which would appease her. 

I tried to explain how I admired her non-judgmental acceptance of people (lie, my mom is one of the judgiest I know, but anyway I believed it at the time). I don't remember how it came out but I used the example of Bill's letter in his sweet handwriting. Oh yeah, I remember now. I somehow linked it to the way she was humble enough to apologize when wrong. 

So she never apologized, he did. And she never admitted she was wrong. And that wasn't what she was looking for, anyway. Which was I guess, what a fabulous mom she was. Or maybe it was just the set-up it appeared. In retrospect, I now suspect she was trying to back me in a corner and that no answer would have been right. 

So my response wasn't great. But remember I'm trying to avoid the elephant in the living room without breaking my neck on her ice rink question. I asked her not to tell Bill only because I didn't want him to misunderstand. And obviously it was hard to find a way to say that a letter endears you because it took effort, without sounding patronizing.  I said, do you know what I mean, a lot.

Her mouth said she did but her manner said otherwise. Oh she agreed that the letter was an effort. And reiterated his immature handwriting. However, she signaled disappointment and I felt uncomfortably that I'd let her down. I realized that later. And it should have clued me in that we'd be revisiting this like the dog's dinner. However, I wasn't very good at listening to my inner voice then. I thought she'd taken her tribute and gone home satisfied. But no. Heads would roll. 

So as you know about revenge, it's best served chilled. She waited months. And then, when she'd stolen something from one of my kids (yep, you read that right) and I asked about it, BLAMMMO!! She who prides herself on being so patient and not an angry bone in her body, went nuclear. I have never seen her so angry and certainly never on my behalf. This was to distract from the real problem which was theft from a grandchild. 

With a lot of word salad, she screamed, "yeah well, you know letter you said Bill wrote you?? You know the one you made fun of him for his childish handwriting? (What??) The one you  mocked him about? (Double what??) You called him an ignorant hillbilly! (WTF??)  He says he never wrote it and YOU ARE LYING!!!" Talk about revenge topped with gaslighting and triangulation for afters! 

I had said none of those things!! SHE did!! And if I had why would she tell him if not to shame him? I had tried to answer her stupid-ass question and gotten kicked in the ass for my pains! I asked her not to say anything to him and she promised. And I literally had hard copy of the letter for the longest time, till I lost it. I got to hand it to her. Backstabbing us both, simultaneously while making us feel guilty for making her do it and still appearing as the pretty one. Damn, she's good.  

The only thing that gave her away, and which showed me her real agenda and prevented me from taking this one thing myself, was her vicious anger. If she could just have kept up her sucralose-sweet, ice princess stuff, she'd have won. I still believed the gaslighting. I thought it was a fluke. But through this chink in her armor, she let Medusa out and once seen, you can never unsee. 

So what did I learn from this. That covert narcissists are awesome hiders. But their meanest is their truest self. And believe who they show, not tell, you they are. Also if a question is impossible to answer safely, don't. Say, I'll think about that and get back to you. Then never do. Don't trust trolls with sensitive data. Also, Medusa isn't safe to look at face to face. Use a mirror. Don't take everything as written. Consider the source. Because after connecting the dots, a lot has proved to be false or from a hidden agenda. Also trust your version first. And if it looks and smells like bullshit, don't step in it. 

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