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Young woman holding sign WorthlessI was wondering why I suddenly feel down again, haunted by thoughts of Mac, when I had been doing so well. Then I remembered – I saw my NPD mom yesterday and she asked about Mac. I hadn’t told her we broke up because she is never interested in anything affecting anyone but herself, but yesterday she asked about him, because he had promised to do something for her and she wanted him to pay up. So I explained that we broke up and I hadn’t seen him in about a month. She asked why, so I explained he is an addict and was unable to stay off methamphetamines and alcohol, and that these things cause him to be abusive to me. Her response? “So you’re not worth quitting drugs for, basically.” I thought nothing of it – that’s how used to it I am. I just nonchalantly attempted to explain addiction to her, how it’s a disease and quitting isn’t about someone being “worth it,” but rather about so many other deeper issues.

It was as if her words had no effect on me at all, I have managed to so completely shut myself off from her behavior. I’ve built a wall with the purpose of protecting myself against her treatment, but the fact is her words just lodge deep inside me and stay far away from my reach. I don’t actually prevent their effect, I merely prevent myself from touching the feeling that lies within.

Today I’ve been thinking about how Mac cheated on me, lied to me repeatedly about that and using and who knows what else. Thinking about how he said no one will ever commit to me, I’m not worth committing to. It’s no mistake these things are cropping up today after being told by my mother that Mac didn’t quit drugs because I am simply not worth quitting for. Thanks for the support, mom.

 

Mother Never Let Me GoMy therapist recommended I write down the qualities of every man I’ve been involved with and look for any patterns. I found the following common thread – each one had a particular all-pervasive selfishness and interest only in their own needs being fulfilled. None had any interest whatsoever in fulfilling any of my needs. Sure, some said they wanted to take care of me or support me emotionally, and some would even get angry when they didn’t feel I was being vulnerable enough to them. But each one who made these claims or demands of vulnerability would become enraged when my actual needs didn’t match their expectation. They wanted to provide something specific that they wanted to give, not what I actually needed. And when I wasn’t able to match my need to what they wanted to provide, they hated me for it. This mirrors perfectly my relationship with my mother growing up. They say you may choose unhealthy relationships that mirror the relationship you had with an abusive parent in an effort to “fix” that problem by proxy. Seems to be true of me. So how does one stop?

91O9gt+QgsL._RI_.jpgI watched this movie yesterday and was struck by the similarities with Mac’s behavior. When Nic tells his father “please, no rehab, just let me come home. I can manage this on my own”, it literally made me break down. Mac used to say this to me ALL the time – “Please don’t lock me up, don’t send me to rehab” in an accusatory tone, which I thought was strange because I never threatened to force him to rehab, nor could I if I had wanted to. The most I ever did was ask him if he thought that might be necessary to actually quitting, given he has a 20+ year history, but never gave it as an ultimatum or threat. He is a man in his 40s, he must make his own decisions. He also used to constantly claim to “have this under control.” And the angry outbursts were so familiar – though Mac’s were 10 times worse than anything seen in that movie. And I also didn’t see the delusions and paranoia fully depicted. If there’s one bad thing I could say about the movie it’s that it didn’t depict what meth addiction does to those around the addict well enough. The paranoia, delusions, angry outbursts, narcissistic/bpd-like behavior. Overall, it was odd to see such clear reflection of what I had been going through, albeit watered down. I hadn’t been involved so deeply with an addict before, so when these things happened to me, I kept trying to find the reasons within myself and fix them, not realizing it was the addiction all along.

The black widowI’ve come to the conclusion that love relationships are not for me. After Nandi, it took me two years to get to the point where I was strong again and doing the things I actually enjoy. I had developed friendships, was learning new things, taking classes, going to clubs, spending time with people and recalling the things that make ME happy. And then Mac came along. I threw my entire being into healing him, saving him. I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing at the time, of course – I thought I was diving headlong into a mutual love. I lost all interest in outside activities and people, or at least I lost the ability to juggle that interest along with Mac’s constant needs and anxiety producing behaviors. And now I try to push myself to do the things I had only just begun to enjoy again, out of some stubborn determination not to lose myself again for so long, even though I really already have.

It’s strange that every night I cannot sleep without the fantasy of a man’s arms around me, and yet I actually don’t like sleeping with any man in my bed. How bizarre is that? I dream a fantasy I don’t even actually want. I yearn for companionship, for someone to do things with and feel a connection with as well as a sexual bond – and yet when I have someone, I often wish they would just let me be alone with interests and friends sometimes. I was annoyed that my husband was ALWAYS there, being omnipresent and full of disdain for anything I actually enjoyed. I was annoyed that Nandi never was – and yet he still somehow managed to emotionally drain me and negatively judge the things I enjoyed. His very absence was a draining omnipresence in itself. And Mac – I couldn’t even tell him about things I wanted or planned to do or he would sabotage them.

Because of my mixed desire to be fully committed to someone but not be caged by them, I for years reflected on my feelings and behaviors and questioned if I was NPD or BPD myself – had I inherited this from my mother? But years of therapy and self-reflection have made it clear I’m not disordered in those ways. No, I am an empath and the quintessential “caretaker.” I am always the controlled one in relationships, stuffing down my own needs and emotions to take in those of my partner so I can release those emotions back to them cleansed and healed. Thanks, mom, for training me to feel everything instead of nothing. Because honestly I would rather suffer than cause suffering.

At this point I feel maybe I’ve been so completely emptied that I have nothing more to offer and further connection on a romantic level can only destroy me and do nothing positive for my partner. I feel I’ve left every past partner at least a little bit stronger. I’ve truly fulfilled my mother’s prophecy. This isn’t looking back at my own actions with rose colored glasses – this is what each man has himself told me. My husband said he could not have fulfilled his career goals without my financial and emotional support. Byron said I gave him the confidence to finally leave the incestuous relationship he had been manipulated into by his sister as a teenager. Nandi said I made him strong enough to reconnect with his first and true love in his country of origin. And Mac – Mac said I saved his life when he had given up on living altogether and now he describes himself as “living on the top of the mountain and thanking god every day” for his new life. A life he kicked me out of by his actions after I gave him emotional and financial support to escape the trap he had been in before. I would love someone to come along to heal me. Or rather, to co-heal with me. But at this point, I think such a thing is an unrealistic pipe dream. Every situation has simply drained me dry and given me nothing in return. I no longer believe in love. I no longer believe in soul mates. I just believe I’ve served my function in terms of love and it’s time for me to retire.

When I feel hurt or upset by something, I inevitably end up apologizing for feeling. Why do I do this?

We had a nice lunch today, everything was pleasant enough. When we parted, he even wanted to call and talk to me on the way home. We talked about his car, his business, and at some point I launched into some story, I don’t even remember about what – commiserating about something he had shared with me and I had a similar experience.

Suddenly in my mid-sentence he interrupted me: “I have to take a call, sorry” and abruptly hung up. I was hurt. And I wondered what was so important that he had to interrupt me mid-sentence to hang up. But I knew what it was – his ex-wife. I knew because there is always this same tone of panic and “jump” behavior when she calls. And I know that they have kids and probably he reacts this way because it could be, most likely is, some topic related to them. But does he have to hang up instantly every single time? When my ex calls, I don’t hang up. I let it go to voicemail and call back later. At the very least, I wait until he’s finished his sentence and then say I am getting a call and probably should wrap up and call them back – if it’s important enough to warrant breaking the other conversation.

I feel low priority, less important, and I want confirmation. So I ask…what was so important? Was it an emergency? Is everything ok? Everything is fine, he just had to take the call. I accuse him of being mysterious. Yes, because in my place I would say – “it was my ex, about the kids, I had to take it.” But he is vague. He responds with this admission…indeed, it was the ex, about the kids, he had to take it. And asks me what is wrong with that. So I tell him. I wouldn’t hang up on him so abruptly when my ex calls. Is it so urgent she can’t wait 10 seconds for you to explain your ex is calling and you think it’s about the kids so you need to take it? Would something horrible happen if it even went to voicemail and you let me finish my sentence and called her back 2 minutes later?

He is adamant. He has done nothing wrong. He is sure I have done exactly the same to him, remembers times. I ask him to remind me of when I have done the same. He refuses. I tell him I am sure it hasn’t happened because I have a pretty firm rule about this. Unless it is obviously urgent, I always let another call go to voicemail and get back to them later – I would consider doing otherwise disrespectful to him. He is more important. That he doesn’t do the same for me makes me feel less important. He accuses me of calling him a liar, tells me I am making things up (again), creating scandal, being hysterical. I am perfectly calm. I am not even worked up. I am just explaining how I feel and why. I don’t understand these accusations of hysteria. But they make me feel hyserical. I ask him – if I call while he is on the phone with her, does he hang up on her? He takes a long time answering, but eventually just says “yes.” And then adds that probably I am sure he is lying. He says it’s a matter of trusting your partner. And I don’t trust him. And this lack of trust affects him more and more each time I ‘make a scandal”. Well…probably he is right. I don’t trust him. I don’t trust anyone.

He goes silent. Then comes back and tells me he is afraid to behave any way at all with me because he doesn’t know how I will react. That I will “make myself offended” by something that he says or does. He says he doesn’t know what to do. And I wonder if I am so difficult. It’s true I am sensitive to things – more sensitive I guess than most. But I also think sometimes the things he does or says are genuinely hurtful to anyone who wants to feel important. A waiter made a comment to him – “I guess that’s why you’re dating her” when we were bantering about something in a restuarant. He responded quickly “I’m not dating her.” He didn’t think I should be hurt by this response. It was just a joke. But he also tells people who ask that I am “just a friend” – he says it’s because he doesn’t want his kids to get confused. I hear my mother’s words in his – he’s not datin me, I am just a friend, you’re not the kind of girl men fall in love with. He accuses me of “always expecting the worst” from him, always “making things up” and making “myself” offended. And even these statements are themselves hurtful. Like nothing I feel is valid – it’s all in my mind. He can do no wrong. It is all me. I am flawed. I am. Flawed.

I ask him if it’s possible that he doesn’t put as much importance on this phone etiquette as I do, and that I could feel hurt by his behavior even if he didn’t mean to hurt me and maybe even didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just a different outlook. He can affect me without meaning to sometimes. It’s not a representation of my trust in him, it’s just something we do differently. He goes silent again. When I try to engage him in conversation, he responds in quick short answers. I become more and more terrified – I remember the things he said, that he doesn’t know what to do, he is afraid to interact with me, I am too sensitive, too difficult, I begin to fear he is going to leave. I feel still hurt and angry and still less important than others – but I feel more afraid of being abandoned, and willing to sacrifice my right to feeling just to close this gap and feel somehow safer again.

I find myself apologizing for my feelngs. “I’m sorry for my behavior. I was selfish and stupid. And I am sure you would not drop a call with me if I really needed you and was talking about something important.” And even as I say this last bit – to try to assure him (and perhaps convince myself) that I do trust him – that he will throw it back at me as accusing him of not considering my conversation important. But I don’t know how to end it — how to stop being accused of accusing. And part of it is my fault – because it’s true, I don’t trust him. Maybe I could trust him more, a little more, if he would not make me feel flawed for feeling at all.

I am the daughter of a mother with narcissistic personality disorder. When I was 15 years old, my mother told me I am not the kind of girl men fall in love with. I am, she said, the kind of girl who helps men get over the girl they fell in love with and who broke their heart, so that they can move on and fall in love with another girl. Internally believing every word, I spent the next 20 years trying to be the best “distraction” possible, carefully avoiding intimacy and denying myself the right to be loved. I jump back and forth between a dismissing/avoidant and fearful/preocuppied approach to relationships. I blog about my relationship experiences and feelings, which derive from my childhood experiences, as an effort to connect with and help others like me and to help myself through expression of things that are difficult to admit in my everyday emotional life.

I felt like this through most of 1999-2006. It was a feeling very specific to that relationship. Sucks to have to sit through the ad first in this version of the video, but the techno version on the “official” video just doesn’t do the feeling justice.

Our relationship endured, on and off, for 8 years. During the entire time, he had another, and he had many others. He would come sometimes to me right after one of them – I could tell because it would be more difficult to inspire the physical evidence of his excitement, and sometimes there was the residual smell and taste of the condom on him when he came to me. I didn’t care. At least, I told myself I didn’t care. We weren’t about monogamy, after all. He was engaged in an incestuous relationship that may as well have been a marriage. We were about sex. Yes, I was in love with him, but it didn’t mean we were in love. Remember, I am not the kind of girl men fall in love with :). I never looked him in the eyes – it would have been too much vulnerability. One day he said he was in love with me – but he couldn’t leave her. And then he tried to bring her into our relationship – make us a threesome. I did not reject her, I even felt badly for her, and in fact it was the moments sitting downstairs with him, caressing him and seeing that lust in his eyes, while I knew she was just upstairs, drowning in pain of what was happening in the next room, that made me unable to continue. In the end, I tried to break it off with him, but he seemed destroyed, so I came back. We engaged in a strange little dance for a few more months – he moving me further and further away, slowly. I let him let me down the easy way – easy for him – and one day I realized it had been over for a while. I had the conversation with him walking around the streets, crying, but begging him to let me let him go. And so he did. This is what I wrote just afterwards – things I never said to him:

You say one thing and then you say its opposite. I once thought you an innocent, and then I thought you a liar, and only now do I realize the depth of your neurosis. You change your mind every moment and forget what you felt yesterday because you are allowing others to choose your feelings for you. Your love for me was pure for as long as it was unknown by any others, for I never told you how to feel and no other knew well enough to try. Then you made the decision to end our relationship – whether you knew it or not, involving her was ending us. You have learned to believe that what she says of you is the truth. She governs your feelings on anything within which she is involved. Before her knowledge of our connection, you wanted permanence, not I. And once she became involved, you became certain that I wanted permanence, not you. And nothing will enlighten you, for your thoughts are her words. I did not before understand, but I believe I do now. You said things, walking around the block, as though they were just occurring to you then – old thoughts about what our relationship was. One moment asking me,, “What is over, anyway? We had nothing,” and the next telling me we treated our friendship like a monogamous relationship, that there was never anyone else for you. And I had though you confused, but now I see. Your will has been destroyed by your own decisions – decisions that you made when little more than a boy, but the consequences of which you must live with for the rest of your life. The decisions that you made will forever scar you – you can never evolve from them or change the direction of your life, for you made such permanent decisions, not realizing the terrible risk you were taking. A narcissist, you fell in love with the reflection of yourself, and now you are forever chained to that reflection. Even when you try to look away, to admit you feel no love, for it is to admit you feel no love for yourself, and that is unbearable. To betray it is to betray yourself, and to abandon it is to abandon yourself, for it has become you. You had to make it so in order to face what you had done. And worse, you cannot rest on a decision because you cannot face yourself, your true self and its desires and thoughts and wants, for long enough to really understand your feelings. Because to look at yourself is to see these horrible decisions and to view the cage within which you’ve placed yourself. The sad thing, darling, is your belief that I would claim you, another prison for your soul were you to finally break away from the one you’ve made. But I would never do so, for you are too scarred to love another and I cannot bear the neurosis. Your fear of entrapment by me is unfounded precisely because of that decision you made which created it. I wish that I could want you, but I know that the person you have become could never be the one I want. You should have been, yes, I believe if anything was ordained from above, it was this – but you have destroyed all possibility of its realization. And my situation, which once I believed a prison, I now realized was placed in my path to save me from hope, and to save me from this desire to possess you – to make it possible for me to live without you. For difficult though it is, though I think of you every night and every morning, cry for you when I’m alone – I can, and will, live without you.

When I unpack my frequently fearful and anxious emotional responses to anything that confuses me or makes me feel uncertain in relationships, I tend to find shame at the core of most of them – and somewhere around that, a resistance against vulnerability. When I saw Brene Brown’s first lecture on Shame, it resonated with me. The second literally made me cry. I haven’t read her book yet, but fully intend to.