Tony shares an email from a listener who says that her "waking up" to the narcissism in her relationship saved her life. She shares how her relationship gradually shifted from good to a place where she regularly questioned her sanity. Plus, Tony discusses the "Maddening and Bizarre Things Narcissists Do" by Julie Hall from the Narcissist Family Files https://narcissistfamilyfiles.com/2019/01/30/maddening-and-bizarre-things-about-narcissists-explained/
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With the continuing "sheltering" rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can't continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.
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Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ
[00:00:07] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 40 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and also host of the Virtual Couch podcast. And if you haven't listened to the Virtual Couch podcast, I would encourage you to do so. I had someone reach out to me, I think it was last week and they mentioned that they felt like the waking up to narcissism and the virtual couch were almost going hand in hand and I didn't realize that. So we might talk about confabulation on waking up to narcissism or a trauma bond and then over on the virtual couch. I'm dealing a lot right now with implicit and explicit memory or what it feels like to be you as the only version of you. And it does feel like I'm trying to figure out from a mental health standpoint of what where that spectrum of tendencies are that we're talking about over here on waking up to narcissism. So if there's narcissistic traits or tendencies of its emotional immaturity, I feel like [00:01:00] over on the virtual couch, I'm trying to figure out then what does that spectrum look like and how does that show up in your marriage or in your relationship with your kids or in trying to figure out who you really are? So I hadn't noticed that I was doing a little bit of this back and forth between the podcast, but definitely something to take a look at.
[00:01:17] And I also now have a few episodes recorded of the Magnetic Marriage podcast, which is going to be a subscription based podcast for the cost of, well, less than one therapy session. With me, you're going to have access to me doing some coaching with couples, anonymous couples. So if you want to know more about that, you can go to Tony over eBay.com and just sign up for my newsletter and you'll find out more about that. If you happen to be one of the couples or people that would like to possibly be coached, you can send an email to info at Tony over Macomb. But again, the more of the episodes that I record, the more I feel like this might be a good opportunity to just hear what you don't know, that you don't know about what a relationship [00:02:00] can look like, or if you happen to be in a relationship where your spouse, your partner is not interested in improving the relationship and they're not interested in couples therapy or couples coaching. This might be a good introduction to see what that whole process would look like. So the more of these that I get recorded, I really am excited about what they what that what it's going to be or I really think it's going to help people. And the quick plug there too is you can still go to Tony over Macomb workshop and I have the $19, it's an hour and a half workshop that just lays out a lot of foundational principles that I believe would help someone understand what a marriage could look like.
[00:02:43] And I want to say should and nobody likes to be showed on. But here I'm going to do it intentionally. But what a marriage should look like, where there is love and not control, where there you can be two different people and have different opinions and still respect each other and still thrive in the relationship. That it doesn't have [00:03:00] to be this concept of putting someone down to make someone else feel better. But yet I digress. I'm sure we're going to get to some of that in today's episode. It's been a few episodes since I've read an email and I received an email that it's a little bit long. And again, it's one of those that is just there are so many pieces here that we could do an entire episode on, but I'm going to read the email, we're going to give a few comments about this, and then we're going to turn over to a website that I referred to before. They've got an amazing narcissism glossary, but it is the Narcissist Family Files, and there's an article that I just feel helps, helps make more sense of just some things that don't make sense. The author of The Narcissist Family Files is Julie Hall, and Julie is she's, I would say, a prolific writer.
[00:03:51] She has so many articles on narcissist family files dot com. She also has a book out The Narcissist in Your Life Recognizing the patterns and Learning to break free. [00:04:00] And she has a very just bold, kind of blunt article on there. That is a bit of a transcript from an interview that she did on the Narcissist Apocalypse podcast. And so just for the record, again, now we've talked about the Narcissist Apocalypse podcast. I'm not familiar with it, but Julie's been on there. Then I feel like it must have a lot of good information. And we've got Julie Hall who has Narcissist Family Files. We've got the book The Narcissist in Your Life. So I just want you to know there's no no scarcity mindset for people that are trying to help people become aware of unhealthy, narcissistic relationships or relationships where you are involved in someone that is emotionally immature. And the more I think about this, the more I talk about this, speak about it, record things on it that I want you to view this entire process is it's your individualized treatment plan. There are going to be some people that you're going to resonate more with or you're going to hear some things on certain podcasts that make sense and maybe some that don't apply. And you may be in a group that maybe the people there [00:05:00] are your people and there might be another group where that might not feel like the case and just know that that's absolutely normal.
[00:05:06] So we're going to get to an article that Julie has on the Narcissist Family Files called Maddening and Bizarre Things. And our Stu explained, and it's pretty, pretty bold. It's right there in her face. So I think that one's going to be really interesting to talk about. So first I want to read this email. And again, this one's going to be it's equal parts, tough and beautiful and frustrating. And I think a lot of people are going to resonate with a lot of pieces here. So the person, the subject line, they said so far you've saved a life, which I am grateful for. She says that she didn't realize what she had gotten herself into until it was too late. She said she had been with her spouse for a number of years. They had lived together for several of those and that they had been raising a family before. She realized that he wasn't who she thought he was. He had been seemingly perfect for so long, and then out of nowhere, things were flipped upside down. And here was a man who [00:06:00] was in what I describe as a struggle for power with an unwilling and unarmed foe who wasn't fighting for power or control. She said she felt as though he was fighting me for something that I didn't even want, that I wasn't fighting for, and that I had no interest in.
[00:06:16] After so many discussions, she said, I figured out part of our issue, and as simple as it is, it was so difficult trying to make it make sense to him, she said. I started to realize he sees the world through a distorted lens. She had wanted to work on their communication and work on some resolutions to the lack of intimacy and acceptance that she was experiencing. She said. I had felt ignored for so many years when things had turned around because she was ignored, because he had literally started to spend all of his time at work or spend a tremendous amount of time playing video games and on social media and just disconnected from the marriage. And that left her feeling invalid, unimportant, lonely and [00:07:00] ugly. She said, I was emotionally neglected, our relationship was neglected, and he saw me asking him to put time into fixing things as me being controlling. And I want you to pay attention here, where now she's saying that I want to improve the marriage, I want to improve our communication. And now she's, in essence, handed him a tool that he can now weaponize something that's important to her, that then it sounds like he doesn't have interest in because of a lot of things, because maybe he never saw what a healthy relationship was, how it was modeled, or he also may start to recognize that he isn't who he thought he would be in this relationship, but he doesn't know how to take ownership of it.
[00:07:41] And he's worried if he has to do work that he may not be good at it. Somebody might see that he's not the world's greatest person. And so you can start to see where the emotionally immature or the narcissist is going to weaponize anything that is important to the person that's that's starting to put themselves out there. They're starting to be [00:08:00] vulnerable. So she said he then somehow morphed my desire to fix us into me being a controlling person. And here's the part that breaks my heart, she said. But after years, I slowly did become controlling because my needs weren't being met at all, she said. I started to grow desperately lonely and I could not figure out why. He then wouldn't tell me that he loved me when he had done that early in the relationship and she said why? I then realized I hadn't heard a compliment in years and that I had now rarely even been given a thank you when I do something for him, she said. I thought if he wasn't willing to tell me that he loved me, that he must be telling somebody else. Which makes perfect sense when you're trying to make sense of something through your brain or through what your experiences are. But why? I wanted to go to this email and there's a lot more that we're going to talk about in this email, but you can start to see this shift where things seem to be perfect.
[00:08:56] And then as life continues to happen in that love bombing wears [00:09:00] off, that now the person that says, hey, let's improve our marriage because that's okay, it's okay to improve your marriage, it's okay to have a different opinion. This is the part where growth can occur, where there's a little bit there might be a little bit of tension because you don't know what you don't know. And you start to talk about what do you want out of a relationship? What did you see modeled out of a relationship? What did you always dream and hope? Did you dream that you would be laying in the grass with your spouse and looking up at the clouds and just talking about know hopes and dreams and childhood and all of these things where then you have a spouse that if you even try to mention something, one of your wants, one of your needs, one of your thoughts that then he or she, she's the narcissist or the emotionally immature, then takes that as criticism. Oh, okay. I guess I can't provide that to you. And so then they shut down or withdraw and all of a sudden you feel like, wait, I thought we were just we were just talking, thought we're just spitballing some ideas here so you can see where the shift starts to happen, where a normal or emotionally healthy relationship would begin to grow, and where here's where we [00:10:00] start to see things splinter off.
[00:10:02] So then she says that she said, I thought he was emotionally invested. Somebody else again. And that that must have been the reason why he wouldn't engage with me. So then she finds herself where he is now calling her, controlling by wanting to improve the relationship where she said she started to get insecure, where she had not been insecure earlier in her life or in the relationship. She started to become untrusting and she went into the relationship as a pretty trusting person. So she said, then I started to become suspicious of him even going places with the kids, because I started to realize I didn't trust him because she was trying to make sense of something that did not make sense in her brain. And when she would try to have conversations around Why, why don't we communicate anymore? Why did you stop complimenting me? Why don't you tell me that you love me anymore? And you can see that when you start to put all those things together and these are all reasonable requests or questions, then it starts to feel like she is getting desperate and needy and that just [00:11:00] starts to give him that power. So she said the more that she did that, the more that he was continuing to say that she was controlling.
[00:11:08] She said I was a wreck. And then he seemed to be okay. He seemed to be okay about everything because now she said he knew what I thought or how I felt, or at least he would tell me. And so I hope you can see that a subtle shift now where now he has information, now he has knowledge that he can use against her. And it's as if here is where we talk about the narcissistic supply. So now whenever he is feeling bad, whenever he is feeling bored, whenever he doesn't have that dopamine dump of whatever the supply looks like, the narcissistic supply, now he can go to a narcissistic supply that is right in his own home. So he started to feel better. He started to seem even more okay. Now, all of a sudden, he's right about everything again. He knew what she was thinking, how she felt or what she said is at least he would tell me. And she said, you know, assigning a person their emotions and intent. She said she started to hate herself because she [00:12:00] was being told that, you know, you're controlling and you're you're insecure. She said he would call her trash. She was a trash can human being and she really was the problem. And she said, I started to be called so many names. So then he refused to listen to what I was trying to explain to him about why I was upset and I'd become even more upset.
[00:12:20] And so then he would tune me out or invalidate me or make absurd cross complaints. So she said that over time she went from this quiet, timid person who felt like things were okay in the relationship and had had these hopes and dreams of growing together and having this marriage that she had always dreamed of to this person who became a sobbing mess of anger and anxiety. Now we kick in there with some complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Now we've got that trauma response or the body keeps the score. Oh, and here, here is a tangent that I am excited to spend a little bit of time on. I was on an interview yesterday on a podcast called The Vegas Therapist, [00:13:00] a guy named Ryan. I really enjoyed being interviewed by Ryan and he does a lot of the similar work that I do. But I was telling him that I just had this aha moment or epiphany the night before in a session with someone where they were saying, Hey, what are your thoughts on when people say, if you say, you made me angry and then somebody says to you, Well, I can't make you feel anything. You're choosing to feel that way. And I realize, Oh, I used to say that too, but the more that we are looking at what that visceral or emotional reaction is, the more of that trauma response is that actually it's literally the opposite.
[00:13:35] If you are trying to walk into a room and your heart rate starts to elevate and you start to feel anxious or have a panic attack around a person, then that's your body saying, Hey, I got to get your attention. This is not safe. So literally that person is making you feel a certain way before you're even aware of it. So I thought that was kind of fascinating. I'm gonna do a little more research into that and and probably start talking about that or maybe do a podcast specifically about that. Because [00:14:00] another example I had someone that was they've been out of their narcissistic, abusive relationship for quite some time now, and their nurses did a classic move on within a couple of months after the divorce. So they we call this the discard and the narcissist. Now all of a sudden, I mean, it was God himself came down from the clouds and said, you must now be with this new person. So what's he supposed to do? Look at him not taking ownership of anything in that situation and then discarding this relationship that had been decades long because he just needed his new dopamine fix, his new narcissistic supply. He's congratulating the entire existence of his previous relationship. But this person was saying she was saying, okay, I'm coming to more of an acceptance. But she still continues to try to say, but, man, I'm okay and I know that it's over.
[00:14:46] I know that it's not going to we're not going to ever be back together again. But I'm figuring out that here was my part or here's where I can take ownership of that. And she said, I know you may disagree, but if I did have this information and then I'm sure things would have been different and [00:15:00] I would beg to differ, and that's where I said, okay, so you feel like now with the information you have. You could go back to that version or go back to those times when the the invalidation was there. Or maybe it was the worst or the gaslighting was there. And you feel like now you have the tools that you could stand up for yourself or set those boundaries and things would be different or okay. And I said, But what about your body? You know, every time that she went into back to this person, we would call these the rule outs. But every time she would go back, I mean, her body would literally cause her to have a panic attack. She would start to have the suicidal thoughts or ideations. And that's where I go back to saying you may continue to try to put yourself forward, but if your your body is going to try to get your attention somehow because your brain is a don't get killed device. So if you are going back into these unsafe situations, your body is going to say, okay, I don't know what else to do.
[00:15:51] Let's try more anxiety. Let's amp that up. Let's amp up the heart rate. Let's get the fight or flight response going because this is not safe. I just think that's kind [00:16:00] of fascinating where if you then find yourself becoming someone that you never were, I would love for you to take a step back, maybe when the waters are calm and say, all right, in this situation, this email that she said, I went from a quiet, timid, confident person to a sobbing mess of anger and anxiety. If you are feeling then like, what? What is wrong with me? I am broken. It's no. Check out what my response is when I'm in this relationship. We're trying to communicate with this individual that my body is saying, okay, we used to be able to be pretty good about being quiet and timid, calm, have rational conversations, have hopes and dreams. But now I don't know how else to get your attention to say that this isn't safe. So we're going to amp up the anxiety, we're going to get the anger flowing, and that is that your body is trying to communicate to you. Emotions are okay and we grow up then suppressing emotion so often and even the best of parents will say, Hey, champ, just rub a little dirt in it. It's not a big deal. Don't cry about it.
[00:16:54] They probably didn't mean it. And so even again, from the best of homes where we're told [00:17:00] that our emotions just shove those down, just put those away. But we have emotion for a reason. And there there are reasons why we get angry. There are reasons why we get sad or why we have have anxious feelings. And so if those are screaming to get out of your body, I'd love for you to take a moment and listen to those. So the email, if you felt like we've already heard enough or you get the point, unfortunately gets worse, he said. In 2020, he began calling the police on me when I would try talking to him about certain things that he had now deemed off limits, which were subjects like my needs, my feelings. Can we get help? So then he started calling the police. He would tell the police that I was harassing him. She said he got the mental health crisis unit to come out at one point and do an evaluation, and they always wanted to speak to her. But then she would say, No, I'm okay, I don't need this. And then she would lock herself in a room to try to get away from him, because when the mental health unit would leave, then he would gaslight [00:18:00] and yell and and he would just amplify his behavior to try to get even more of the response. And she said, I would just find these surreal situations where I would just be yelling through my door that I wasn't crazy, that I was a victim of emotional abuse.
[00:18:15] And so in just a matter of a few months and then leading into years, he had called the police on her a lot, several times. And she said all I wanted at that point was his undivided attention and patience with me. While I explained the feelings I was having and what I thought was causing them, she was simply just asking for empathy and and understanding, and she wanted to express the toll that it was taking on her and taking on their relationship and on their lives in general. But what she got was every time she tried to open up, she would leave feeling even worse, which is part of that my of my fifth rule of interacting with someone with narcissistic behavior. We need to recognize that you are never going to be able to cause them to have the aha moment or the epiphany. To want to change that has to come from them. And [00:19:00] the more that you are doing that, the more that you're trying to explain yourself. And when you come away from that feeling worse, it's not because you are not a good communicator. It's because the person that you're trying to communicate to doesn't have the ability to hang in there and receive what could potentially be criticism without then going into this place of defending their fragile ego.
[00:19:22] So she said at that point, every time that she tried to talk more about the relationship, the more amplified he got and the more tools that he had to use against her, and the more that he weaponized the speech that she was using. She said he had gaslit me so bad at that point that she said even now, and she's been out of the relationship for quite a while, she still can't tell if her memories are actually things that she remembers or if she made them up because she had been told that she was making up the memories for so, so long. She said she feels sometimes like her left brain is fighting with her right brain. And this tug of war of trying to move from logic to emotion, emotion to logic, [00:20:00] she said. One side is screaming. He says he's not trying to hurt me and the other side is screaming, Run as fast as you can. And she said, I almost hope that I have some condition that causes me to confabulation because she said, What I do remember when I sit down and really think about the situation has been awful, she said. Eventually, she located some papers from a doctor that he had been to and there was a checklist of behaviors and they were the behaviors. They were the checklist that was trying to rule out narcissistic personality disorder. And so she said that she even saw on the paperwork where the words Covert had been written.
[00:20:37] So she said, here is someone that then had literally gone to a doctor. And we talked about this a few episodes of episodes ago, I'm sure, to triangulate and to get the doctor on his side and talking about his wife so that the doctor would say, yeah, it sounds like she has a covert, narcissistic personality disorder. She said it was this whole information packet about narcissism. And then when she [00:21:00] finally brought it up to him, he said it never existed. I feel like those who have been in this kind of a relationship are going to identify so much with this next paragraph or two, she said. So I love him, but I honestly can't stand him because even though I feel like a crazy, stressed out mess of a person and I've been told so many times that I am abusive and mean and that I am a waste of air, she says. I know that he's not that I know that I am not who he says I am. And she said, The more I'm waking up to the narcissism, the more I recognize. I pity him and I pity him because he's this way in part of the abuse that he suffered at his family, his family's hands when he was young, the trauma of being abandoned by a parent when he was young, and the bullying that he had experienced in school, she said trauma doesn't make the choice for him to be abusive.
[00:21:51] He does, she said. I no longer see the person that I used to love. When I look at him, I see a broken little boy who goes to great lengths to avoid feeling [00:22:00] anything negative about himself. A boy who feels shame that he hides from a shame that he shouldn't have to feel in the first place. And that's where she can start to look at him with empathy. And honestly, as if some of this wasn't enough already, I do want to give you a little bit of a trigger warning that it's going to get a little bit worse right now because she says I'm okay with my story being used on the podcast, though there are a few things that I didn't mention in her initial email. So this was a second in a follow up email that she said I wasn't so sure about sharing, but she said after some thought, I've decided that I'm comfortable speaking about this, that there also was physical abuse and that she had been blamed for being abused. That in essence, well, he made her do it. What was he supposed to do? Should she suffered broken ribs, she's been strangled. And one of the occasions so severe that she suffered nerve damage and her throat and her tongue bled from the pressure of the blood being restricted from flowing.
[00:22:58] She said she's had her nose broken and [00:23:00] after each time that she's assaulted, she has been told it's her fault. Because she said because he says I pissed him off or I harassed him. And she said, I acknowledge that I've been irrational at times. And I realized in those moments that this isn't me. And I just want to pause there and say it isn't. And you don't just go walking around criticizing people. I know you don't. I know just even from reading this email, from the way that it started, that this is where I just want to say this is far too common where somebody goes into a relationship as someone and they don't grow, they lose themselves because of that gaslighting, because that emotional immaturity of a partner. And slowly but surely that process of what it feels like to be them is that they start to feel crazy, they start to feel like they aren't themselves. And the further they get away from that person that they were, the more they start to just this is their reality. And that's the part that just breaks my heart and why I'm so grateful that people are sharing these podcast episodes or people [00:24:00] are reading these books or listening to whatever they can and is hard as it may be to hear an email like this, especially if you're in this situation. I feel like the more feedback that I get, the more people that hear these emails and know that, wow, my situation is similar to that, or there's some some pieces of this that I can definitely identify with that is not okay and it's time to get help.
[00:24:22] And sometimes that help is just starting to put the pieces together. You're going from this concept of you didn't know what you didn't know, and now the next step is you're you're going to know. You're starting to understand. But that absolutely does not mean that now things are going to be easy and it's going to be a piece of cake now because, you know, because you're just now coming to awareness and it's going to take time. So she said that a lot more along the lines of this abuse. Oh, and I think the other part that I wanted to just talk about is that people will often then say to me, yes, yes, but I did do these things, these things I definitely did, and I need [00:25:00] to take ownership about it. But you were not someone that just walked around and yelling at people and popping off on them and and yelling through doors that I'm not crazy. Because that only has happened as a response of your body trying to fight to stay alive. I mean, it's a defense mechanism. It's a survival instinct, she said. I realized in those moments that this isn't me. I don't like who I am or how I'm acting.
[00:25:25] I don't enjoy being an emotional wreck, she said. A dingbat who becomes emotionally reactive so easily that she's had to isolate herself from everybody because she's deeply ashamed and embarrassed by it. And she said that she could go on for hours and she said again she didn't want to initially share about the physical abuse because she still feels like I'm badmouthing him and making him out to be a bad person. And she says, I know what he's done is bad, but he interacts with the world in a maladaptive way, and that's not entirely his fault. And I will acknowledge that. But that doesn't mean that you have to be the punching bag, and that doesn't mean it's absolutely [00:26:00] not your fault for the way that he is acting. And she said, I know again, I know what he's done is bad. She said, it's narcissism is a terrible disorder. She said it's sad really that the mind goes to such lengths to protect itself from shame or whatever it is. It's specific to the individual, she says. It's an illness of the personality, and most don't even realize what that means. The personality is sick, and she said. That's just terribly sad and it really is. And I cannot thank you enough to the person who wrote this email, because I guarantee you I'm going to get a lot of emails saying I felt like that was me, or I felt like there were things in that email that that I so identified with.
[00:26:40] By sharing your story, you really are helping people, and I hope that you are getting the help that you need because that is not you don't deserve any of that. And that doesn't put you in a position to be able to let your light so shine, so that you can be there for your kids, so that you can truly grow into the person that you were meant to be. Because [00:27:00] we all have this goodness that that we need to be able to harness. And so, yeah, it's frustrating when you see somebody and you start to recognize that those traits, those narcissistic traits, tendencies, the full blown narcissistic personality disorder, that abuse, that it does come from these deep childhood wounds. But that does not mean that you are responsible for it. And I think one of the most one of the difficult things I talked on, I can't even remember if I talked on waking up narcissism or if it was only on the Virtual Couch podcast. But this concept of implicit versus explicit memory, it's from the book The Buddha Brain. And this has been so on my mind the last few weeks where the author, Rick Hanson, says Much is your body is built from the food you eat, your mind is built from the experiences you have and the flow of experience. Gradually sculpture your brain, the shaping your mind.
[00:27:47] Some of the results can be explicitly recalled like This is what I did last summer, or This is how I felt when I was in love. But most of the shaping of your mind remains forever unconscious. And he says this is called implicit memory. [00:28:00] And it includes your expectations, your models of relationships, your emotional tendencies, and your general outlook. Implicit memory. And this is the part that I think is so key. Implicit memory establishes the interior landscape of your mind or what it feels like to be you based on the slowly accumulating residue of lived experience, slowly accumulating residue of lived experience. That's what creates what it feels like to be you. So heading into this marriage, what it felt like to be her was maybe a little timid, but maybe a little bit excited. For what? Light ahead. Maybe an excitement about growing old together with a spouse and having kids and raising them together and going through a lot of challenges together with a partner. But over time and this is why I just thought this email was so tragically beautiful and touches on so many different areas is that you can see how her experience or what it feels like to be her based on the slow accumulating residue [00:29:00] of her lived experience. Was that what it felt like to be her? Was it? It grew slowly to feel like she's crazy or to feel like this is not who she is or she does not want to be this way, or she can't believe that she's acting this way.
[00:29:14] And so how do you change that? The remedy, he says, is not to suppress negative experiences, because when they happen, they're going to happen, but rather it is to foster the positive experiences and in particular, take them in so they can become a permanent part of you. So when you find yourself ruminating, beating yourself up, trying to figure out how you can go back in and interact with the narcissist in your life so that maybe they'll get the point that all of that is a waste of emotional calories and energy. And I'm not saying that from a place of guilt or shame, but just from a place of awareness. So when you recognize that that is what you're doing that. The time to just drop the rope of the tug of war on how do I figure this out and just walk away from it and literally make a pivot 180 degrees and start doing things that matter. Listen to things that make you feel better. Raise your emotional baseline to self care. [00:30:00] And I had somebody in my office yesterday saying, Hey, and self care isn't just getting your nails done. Self care can be doing projects, being creative. It can be cleaning your house the way that you want to clean it. It can be doing anything. That is something that you enjoy that raises your emotional baseline.
[00:30:16] That's the opposite of beating yourself up, wondering what's wrong with me or trying to solve this puzzle that that you're missing. Maybe not you, but the narcissist in your life is missing a whole lot of puzzle pieces, I'll tell you that much. Okay, so let's get to this article. And and if you have thoughts or questions or if you have similar experiences to that email today, feel free to share those. You can you can send those in. And myself and my wonderful assistant, Naomi, will take a look at those. And then we're putting together just a database of experiences and questions and so much more. And while I got you right here, if you are a woman who is in a relationship, any kind of a narcissistic, abusive relationship, again, whether it's with a spouse or a parent or a sibling or an institution or a job, a boss, [00:31:00] and you feel like you need some support. Reach out and we can get you a part of that Facebook group. And I had made my one of my first meetings with a lot of the guys who are showing up and saying I might be a little bit emotionally immature. So let's talk about it. And that was a really, really interesting experience. So I'm going to start putting those kind of meetings together maybe once a month or maybe a little more frequent. But it was a good group of guys that we were talking about that and if you are a guy that is in a relationship with the narcissistic woman, because I know that I do hear continually, hear often, hey, it's not just the guys.
[00:31:35] And that is absolutely correct. Reach out to me as well, because I'm starting to get a little group of people there. And again, well, I'm on a roll here. And I think even within the last week, a handful of three or four or five therapists that also reached out and said, hey, I'm in the fight with you, just keep me posted and maybe we can collaborate. And so we're starting to put these communities together, and I'm so grateful for that. All right. So it's going to feel maybe like I am going to buzz through this, but I talked about it at the beginning of the episode. Julie Hall from [00:32:00] Narcissist Family Files dot com maddening and bizarre things narcissists do explain so I won't do as much of a reaction on this or throw my comments in because I know that email that we spent some time, but it was well worth it. But there are some things here that I just want people to know that I see this stuff so often. So I think Julie just captures it wonderfully, and it's one of those things where I never would have thought that I would have seen the consistency of the craziness of some of these things that again, she titles maddening and bizarre things in our system and explain.
[00:32:30] So Julie says many of us are familiar with the narcissistic personalities, classic traits such as grandiosity, callousness and trigger happy rage. But there are other things narcissists do that often mistake for individual personality quirks that are actually explainable aspects of pathological narcissism. So she said, See if you recognize these weird things narcissist do and the reasons behind them. Number one, they fat shame from judging you about your weight and your eating habits to controlling your food choices and portions to eating food off of your plate. Narcissist have funky food issues relating to body, image, shame [00:33:00] and control. And that is one of those where I still remember one of the very first women I ever worked with that said that when she would get out of the shower, her husband would just make the most rude comments and that those still stuck with her to to the time that we were meeting together. And that isn't okay. It's not it just the fat shaming is not okay. And I don't even like the word fat. Shame commenting negatively on someone's body is not the way to to develop closeness. And even with somebody saying, hey, what do you think? Or Do you think I look bad or fat or I'm not trying to do some hack comedian bit? Well, that's I don't know. That's I want somebody to answer that question.
[00:33:38] Well, tell me what you think and tell me. Take me on your train of thought. Tell me more about that. Because if somebody just says, yeah, I think you're I think you could lose a few pounds, that's not a way to get connection. It's more control. This one we talked about on a previous episode. And so I feel validated by Julie because this is one of those. Right. Is through this out there and said because I've seen enough examples. She said, number two, they walk ahead of you. They literally walk [00:34:00] in front of you or way ahead of you because they are so impatient and or they have this need to show their kingly or queenly superiority. Keep up with me. I've got things to do. I got places to go. And by the way, we're not going to stop and go to the bathroom till I'm ready. We're not going to stop and get a drink until I'm parched. That is part of this thing that I just see over and over again. Okay. So the third thing that the third maddening thing that the narcissist does, according to this article from Julie Hall, is they value the opinion of strangers over family, especially over their spouse. She says that they're always looking for the next new person to idealize as a source of validation and status while devaluing those close to them because reality disappoints. And she says that any club that would have them is no longer of interest.
[00:34:44] Now, I've got a specific story about. This that was recently shared with me in a session. And I was working with a woman who has been coming out of the narcissistic trauma bond after it's been nearly three decades of trying. Just about as hard as anybody that I have worked with to overcome [00:35:00] the concept of the narcissistic discord. And she's trying to break this trauma bond. She finds herself still idealizing the narcissist or she'll think that she's in a much better place and then some little trigger or something will happen. And she will just feel like, Man, did I blow it? Should I be going back there trying to make things work? A lot of feelings. We've been doing so much work around the feelings and feelings that she's been stuffing for so long. And she comes to therapy. She she reads, she listens to the podcast, she watches videos on YouTube. She's expanded her friend network. She's discovering what her values are. She's trying to raise her emotional baseline, and she's strengthened her relationship with her adult children. I mean, this work that she's doing to strengthen the relationships with her adult children has done more than she even will ever know or really understand to help them heal much faster than they would have had she not been doing the work that she's doing. But she only knows her experience.
[00:35:51] And so part of my job is to continue to normalize these frustrations of healing and to repeatedly assure her that she's she's on the right [00:36:00] path. That unfortunately, I know it sounds clichéd, but that it really is going to take as long as it takes. And she's right where she needs to be. But we were recently digging into the trauma from her marriage, and we're starting to process some pretty specific events. She wanted nothing more than to be a good mom, and she had witnessed a tremendous amount of dysfunction in her own childhood. But that's all that she knew. So she really was trying to show up as her best self in her relationship. So on numerous occasions in her marriage, as we were processing this, she found herself actively trying to follow her gut instincts and to take care of her children as she felt compelled. On one occasion, she had a child that had competed and a pretty incredible, very adult type of physical competition. Her child competed in this when she was 12, 13, 14 years old. And the girl not only competed, but she completed the competition. So the next morning, her daughter was very sick. The mom said, I need to take our daughter to the doctor. And she said that even just [00:37:00] the thought of that made her chest tighten because the more we dug into that, she said that he had so many on so many different occasions that she recalled as early as when this child was three or four years old, if her child would show signs of being sick or not wanting to do something because she just didn't feel good, maybe had a stomachache, the narcissist in her life would say, okay, they're faking it.
[00:37:22] I can't believe that you're buying into this, that you're too sensitive. Or What about me? I have stuff going on today, and now you're going to pay attention to this four or five year old that's obviously faking it. So he said that, in essence, taking care of the kids the way that she wanted to, that by doing that, that she obviously didn't care about him because she never and we can throw narcissistic math or black or white thinking took care of him the way that she's saying that she wanted to take care of the kids. So he made it so much about him. But on this one occasion, she said, our daughter needs medical attention. And he then ended up following her outside. And he got in her face and she said that he tried to physically intimidate her, [00:38:00] that she was not to call a doctor. And if she did, she was clearly going in an opposite direction to him and there would be consequences. But she said at that point in that situation, she had had enough. So she left talking to him and she went into a different room and she called an advice nurse.
[00:38:15] So he came and found her and she had it on speakerphone and the nurse was asking questions and the mother was clearly stating the symptoms that their daughter was exhibiting. And now that somebody else was involved and here we go into this concept that Julie is talking about now that somebody else was involved, he took over and he started answering the questions because now here comes the world's best dad. The nurse said that they needed to immediately get their daughter to the E.R. The wife hung up the phone and said, I'm going. So of course, he said, Well, I am too. And then he continued to berate her on the way to the E.R. and clearly unable to empathize for what was going on with their daughter. And he was more angry with the fact that she had to fight him. Yet when they got to the E.R., you can probably guess the way this story plays out. He was in the caring, doting father now that the nurses were there. And eventually a doctor came to talk [00:39:00] with him and she was so frazzled and fried that it truly did appear that man, this guy, I don't know how he does it. Taking care of his daughter. His wife seems like she's disengaged. So then he's getting the kudos and the praise there as well. And when the doctor then told them that this condition was really serious, he not only took charge in that hospital, but now he turned it on his wife.
[00:39:20] And then he said if she would have only gotten off her high horse and not made it about her, and if she would have been more clear about what the daughter's symptoms were, then he would have done something much sooner. So look at the layers of narcissism in that example of gaslighting and of confabulation, because I have no doubt by the end of that conversation that she was questioning if she did truly good, maybe I didn't convey the right amount of seriousness of their daughter. And had she maybe made it about her? And even more frustrating was this confabulation piece. Confabulation is all about plugging in the gaps of memory. So he had no doubt erase the memories in real time. That challenged his view of his own role in this entire [00:40:00] family dynamic as the smartest one in the room, as the victim is the one who obviously gets it. So his confabulation allowed him to excuse, legitimize and then rewrite his behaviors and again, in that very moment that they were happening. So now at this point, any argument by her then only confirmed to him that she was truly the one who didn't understand that he was the person in this position of power in the relationship. So remembering that to the narcissists, their inner world and their external circumstances are constantly changing.
[00:40:31] I guess literally all of ours are. But instead of those changes yielding to opportunities where you can do a little self confrontation, maybe a little self reflection and dare I say some growth, they turn those opportunities into more opportunities to gain control and put themselves in a one up position. All right. Number four, they speak in an affected way, she said. They speak in a theatrical, haughty or otherwise self-important way to get attention and convey their exceptionalism. And she said some even adopt an accent. [00:41:00] And there's a lot of little nuance things here to I've had people talk about the narcissist or the emotionally immature person that is just will make noise, will utter grandiose sighs, will moan, will just do anything to bring that attention to them if that attention is not on them. And when we talked about medical narcissistic medical exits or narcissistic medical issues, a few episodes or quite a few episodes ago, I continue to get examples in of where people would the nurses the emotionally immature would they would start to have those heart palpitations. They would start to have the phantom spikes and pain. So I think that those are from a similar vein and that part about even adopting an accent that can't lie. It's not a lot of situations, but I've had maybe two or three situations over the years where someone has said and I swear they even start to adopt some sort of British accent or that type of thing.
[00:41:56] So it's just so again validating to see Julie have this list of these traits [00:42:00] or these things as well. She said they're weird about gift giving and I think I did darn near 15 minutes on this on a holiday episode, she said their self-centeredness and manipulative ness lead them to and here's all the options, not give you anything at all. Give or re give, cheap or random things that are meant to devalue you or show that they have no idea or concern for what you actually need or like. They give you things that they would want that you have no use for. They give excessively to show how thoughtful, generous, tasteful they are, particularly when trying to ingratiate themselves. They buy one for you and one for themselves. And she said. And or they attach strings to your gifts. Well, now that I got you this, now what we do for me, here's what I had not put together, but I can see where Julie's coming from with this. She said they're prone to conspiracy theories. She said they, particularly covert narcissist, view themselves and as victims and project their envy, paranoia, cynicism and bankrupt motives onto others. And so the more I thought about this, [00:43:00] the more it made sense. Because the narcissist is special. They are. They are. They are the special ones I often joke about. They're the special flowers and therefore they they are going to have things figured out.
[00:43:14] They must be part of a conspiracy theory or they are so special that they see the world in such a unique way that they are aware of conspiracies that people weren't even aware of before. Number seven, she said. They admire totalitarian leaders, she said. They respect dominance because they view people hierarchically, hierarchically, and they believe in an entitled class lording over the worthless masses. And I think here's where you see that they view money, money as such an interesting thing. Money means power, money means control. So oftentimes they are willing to overlook the the gaslighting or the narcissism in a leader. If that leader is viewed as successful, whatever that looks like, whether it's money, properties, political ranking, that sort of thing, then that means that that leader must be okay, because in the hierarchical [00:44:00] sense of things, they are they are at this higher level, so they must be okay. I remember having someone expressed to me empathy about a narcissistic leader that had made a speech and knowing narcissism, knowing that even the concepts of what this narcissistic leader was expressing in their speech was literal gaslighting of what was not happening. The person that was in my office was saying, but this person's there in a position of authority, so they wouldn't lie there. They're just going to. So they must be telling the truth. So this this thing must have happened. And so I remember in that moment thinking, oh, my gosh, I forget that not everyone is focused on personality disorders and narcissism and understands that the nurses is going to say whatever they want.
[00:44:48] And so the people that aren't even aware of what the narcissistic traits are, tendencies or what this looks like, then they're just going to believe the person. Yeah, they said this yesterday, but they're saying a completely different thing today. And if you're not familiar with [00:45:00] what narcissistic behaviors are like, then you're going to say, So obviously things have changed. There's a reason why not that, oh, the person got caught. And so now they're trying to confabulation or make sense of something or shift the narrative. And the last thing that she talks about, actually. Oh, there's a few more. Sorry, I thought that we were almost done, she said. Okay, number eight. They don't answer questions directly. It keeps you off guard while allowing them to avoid responsibility. And that is why if we start talking about boundaries, one of the best things you can do is continue to go back to the question. And I notice that when I'm talking with people who are trying to even interact with co-parenting or through a divorce with the narcissist, and they will say, okay, when are you planning a let's just give a generic example of when are you planning on picking up the kids? And then they won't get a response from their narcissist that they're interacting with.
[00:45:46] But then the narcissist might say something that, Hey, I need you to take care of something, and then the nice person does what they answer. Okay, I will. And they do that and they think, Well, I'm showing them that. See, I'm willing to answer. So why aren't you? But the nurses [00:46:00] does not answer questions. They're not going to answer questions that they don't want to answer. So that is where setting a boundary can often look like, Hey, I'll answer that as soon as you answer my question of what time are you getting the kids? Or What time are you dropping them off? And you stay consistent with that until the person, the nurse finally answers it. Now, do they all of a sudden realize, oh, my gosh, I need to answer text from this person? No. In that scenario, unfortunately, you're training you're training your narcissist number nine. They rewrite history. We've talked about this confabulation. She doesn't say she doesn't use that word, but she just said they interpret events according to how they need to see things rather than as they are. And the past is open season for distortions, omissions and outright lies, she said. They traumatize you before important events. And when I was even looking at the email that I read today, I ran into three or four of these that I could have gone with as well. But she said, whether you're graduating, whether you're having an audition, you're getting married, or I will tell you a couple of the emails I just read this morning or pregnant and or having a baby, they still need to make it all about them and they sabotage you.
[00:46:59] Some of the emails that I [00:47:00] have on regard to what how the narcissist sabotage is a situation or a big life event, whether it is a graduation from college, whether it is having a baby, whether it is a ginormous military promotion, the narcissist can still find a way to make that about them, said number 11. They sleep with and or stay in touch with your ex, she says. Does your father still keep in touch with your ex, wife or husband? Your mother have a special relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend? Did your ex sleep with your best friend? She said. To heck with boundaries. What a perfect way to feel superior and in control while still humiliating you. Number 12, she said they interrupt, in particular, overt narcissist feel compelled to dominate the conversation. They're easily bored because they miss nuance and they lack empathy and they have low impulse control. That is a big key to the interruption piece. They have low impulse control. So she said they think that they have more important things to say than you do and believe that they have a greater entitlement to speak. Number 13, she said they show poor sportsmanship when they win.
[00:47:57] They gloat because they feel superior, and when they lose, they pitch a fit. [00:48:00] They pout, they make excuses or they challenge the outcome because their self-worth is on the line. And this is even when they're competing against kids. Number 14, there are too involved. They're not involved enough when you need help, she said. You know this one, they get angry at you and or abandon you when you're sick or hurt or in trouble because it's a pain for them. And in reality, she said, they don't care or they use your illness or misfortune to get attention for them being a long suffering victim or a saint with great humanitarian effort. And then finally, she says, they see things naively. She said, Yeah, they're cynical and they're often calculating and sneaky, but they're simplistic, black and white thinking. Their compulsion to deny reality and a need to idealize certain types of people can make them childlike and naive about life, love and human behavior. If you want to read more, I highly recommend heading over to Julie's website, which is the Narcissist Family Files. I'll have that in the show notes. Again, I'm grateful for the people who are sending in emails and I do get a chance to read them. And Naomi is cataloging [00:49:00] them and we're going to be able to address so many of the questions and examples at some point, some way down the road. And if you're still hanging in here with me as well, I do want you to know I'm still trying to figure out whether I put out a second episode a week and try to maybe make that paid subscription at a very low cost.
[00:49:16] In order to fund the nonprofit that I so desperately want to start to be able to help people that are in these narcissistic relationships get more support. Or there might be a Patreon or maybe even just a way to to donate. I'm looking on Julie's narcissist family files, and she just says, Hey, if this is helpful, buy me a coffee. There's a little button there that I think is as a donation. We'll probably be getting some more information out about that soon because I really want to build up this this nonprofit to be able to do more than just talk about things. I want to be able to help. Help some of you take action if you feel like you don't have the means to take action on getting help. So more about that coming up soon. I think that's my joking way of saying. And if you are still with me at this point and you are a wealthy benefactor that [00:50:00] is looking to support others through narcissistic relationships or help drop me a line, I'm sure there's something that I can use your help with. All right, everybody, have an amazing week. I will see you next week on waking up the nurses.