Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What Narcs Hate the Most

I mentioned in Narcissists Are Like Cockroaches that I happen to have a narcissistic neighbor. Between dealing with her, my mother, and Samantha, and reading the blogs in our community here I have come to believe there is one thing narcissists can't stand above all else.

It's not being called out for their behavior, it's not being proven wrong. What they seem to hate the most, what eats them up from the inside, I think, is being silenced. This is why No Contact drives them to extremes and they constantly try to find ways around it. They feel that people have to listen to them, that they are entitled above all else to have their say. Everyone is apparently entitled to the narcissist's opinion whether they want it or not. It's why my NM has gotten so pissed on the few occasions I hung up on her or that time I didn't answer and she called my DH. It's why Samantha refused to answer if I was still in the wedding party or not; she desperately needed something to use to keep the communications opened. Of course, that didn't work. I just assumed I was out and didn't keep asking her to verify.

Which brings me to my neighbor. After DH and I have finally gotten management to resolve an ongoing issue she was causing, my neighbor has taken to being hostile toward us on the rare occasions our paths cross. Before that she had always been polite, although annoying. But last night she arrived at our door swearing and complaining we make noise every night. This is of course absurd, especially given we spent most of last week at the hospital caring for DH's mother after a routine surgery. I would stay there from morning to evening, and then DH would take over until around 10 PM. He'd come home and we'd go straight to bed, exhausted.

Anyway, just before 11 PM last night she came knocking on our door and DH answered and I was nearby. The hostile way she was acting and talking to him caused him shut down, as it reminded him of his mother and his childhood. His mother wasn't a narcissist, but was abusive when he was growing up. But I digress.

I've put up with a lot of crap in my life and I can still tolerate a lot of shit. But I have my limits and I have things that set me off. One of those is when you target my loved ones. Do it to me? Sure, fine, whatever, I can take it. But when you go after somebody I love, well, that's a different story. Coming to my door and swearing at us while making exaggerated accusations is something I won't stand for these days. In the past I would have stood there waiting for her to finish and go away, then been angry afterward. Today though I am much better and enforcing my boundaries. I feel pretty proud of how I handled things. Often a ruminate over these things and think of what I could have done differently, or done better. Not this time!

What happened is a deathly calm came over me. There was anger, ridiculously calm. I slipped in from the side, placing an arm on the open door between her and DH and started closing it slowly and quietly as she went on and I told her politely to call management, nodding as she was making threats to do so. She really should have done that in the first place if she had a problem instead of trying to bully and pretend like sparing us from management was some kind of magnanimous favor she was giving us in spite of our horrible transgressions against her. Anyway, I was calm, cool, collected. It was smooth, I was smooth. I heard her storm away down the hall and I knew she was pissed. How dare I, at least two or three decades younger than her no less, deprive her of her divine right to tell everyone what for! To be silenced is a fate worse than death to the narcissist. As they have no true sense of self, when you take away their access to you as their mirror it's like you have literally destroyed a part of them.

Of course then my blood pressure spiked afterwards as it really sank in what an audacious boundary violation the whole thing was and just how distressed she had made my DH. That's the anger I'm more familiar with. The deathly calm, extremely productive anger isn't yet something I can call upon at will. Still, anger is a warning something isn't right and also energy to act on or change the wrong if you can just tap into it the right way. And that's exactly what I did. I protected my loved one without becoming aggressive- I was able to be assertive and enforce my boundaries in the face of a narcissistic rage.

I have already spoken to management this morning and in my book this issue is resolved. However, in the event my neighbor refuses to cease coming to our door and/or being vulgar to us as per management's instruction, I've already looked up the paperwork I need to file for a restraining order. My bite is way worse than my bark.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Two Years Ago - The Second Incident

Two years ago I was really learning about narcissistic mothers. I had finished reading Alice Miller's "Drama of the Gifted Child" and Susan Forward's "Toxic Parents" (which I highly recommend). And two years ago this week I had what I call "The Confrontation" with my mother.

I think it had been about six months since "The Incident", which  I discussed in my post titled "The First Ephiphany". What I left out of the summary of "The Incident" was it was really conflict between my E-Sis; there was something very distressing to me that I did not want talked about in front of me and I asked it not be brought up in my presence. This still seems to me have been a very reasonable request and one that could easily be carried out. However she continued to bring it up in front of me. This upset me and perhaps for the first time ever I reacted much more like a normal person reacts to boundary violations; with anger toward the violator. My NM jumped in to middle of the situation and naturally that only escalated the situation. Over a period of about a week I hung up on someone, specifically my NM, for the first time ever, which became multiple hang ups, and sent a lengthy e-mail to NM and E-sis  trying to explain how they had trivialized my emotions my entire life and  apologizing to my sister for the one thing I had done that I felt merited an apology. It was a pretty scathing e-mail, but anyone with an ounce of empathy would have understood it was coming from a deep emotional wound.

For the record, I never received any serious apologize from E-sis for the things she said/did that hurt the most. Inf act instead of leaving me alone like I asked she kept picking at it making it worse. The whole blow up would have been much less severe if she'd just left me alone like I had asked at one point. We'd have had some space, thought about, and likely apologized to each other, I think. But obviously that wasn't what happened. Oh no, NM have to jump in. At any rate, NM and I saw each other at an outside event and tired of fighting I (foolishly) apologized. What did she say? She said she was sorry, "but if she had to make me angry at [her] so I'd forgive [my] sister..." Yeah, great apology there, NM.

Cue "The Second Incident" and about a month later "The Confrontation". After a frustrating "miscommunication" triangulated through E-Sis about if DH and I were coming up to do a favor for NM and then attempts to tell me (not ask) when we could come do this favor instead, I signed out of the online chat I was speaking to my E-sis through. When I am annoyed or frustrated I like to be left alone to cool off and get over it. For some reason everyone besides E-sis and NM seem to understand that. Apparently NM felt like she had to protect E-sis from me or something, and decided she would "nip" whatever the hell she thought was happening "in the bud". At the time I was just frustrated, annoyed, and wanted to be left alone; then she called my cellphone. That's when I became angry.

Kudos to me though, I chose to maintain the boundary of being left alone for awhile and didn't answer. I knew speaking to her at that time would be a bad idea, and I knew I was entitled to not speak to her if I did not feel like doing so. Did she perhaps leave a message like any other reasonable person would do when the person they are calling doesn't answer? Or decide to call back another time? No, of course not. Narcissists are not reasonable people, after all.

She called my husband's cellphone (who foolishly answered), and demanded he put me on the phone. That is when I became furious! Mind you that's not how she remembers it happening, she claims she only asked him to have me call when I was ready. However, "That's probably not a good idea right now" is not how one responds to a have-her-call-me request. That's how somebody responds to a demand, and demanding is exactly how DH described her opening line. Then he couldn't get her off the damn phone. Oh, she didn't want to drag him into the middle, but oh it was just a miscommunication, and the best part of all is what she thought I was being over-sensitive about in the first place.

NM thought I was mad because they had ordered pizza (which E-sis started regaling me with how bad the pizza was and that I wasn't missing anything when I expressed annoyance) and if we came up we'd have to take care of ourselves for dinner because they didn't order enough because she didn't know we were coming (because she asked E-sis instead of say, asking us directly if we were coming up). That's right, she thought I, her college educated, married, adult daughter was upset over not getting pizza. Newsflash, I was mad that nobody bothered to check with us if we were coming up, that they then tried to tell us when we could up like we didn't have schedules and lives of our own to deal with, acting so put upon because NM doesn't want company (when we were doing them a favor) that unless she wanted to wait weeks, it had to be done that evening, and that they treated our time like it had no value whatsoever when we were doing NM a favor! DH normally charges people by the hour for what we were coming up to do for NM.

If I wanted a fucking pizza that badly, I'd have ordered myself one, bitch! I'm an adult; credit card, car, and all. I have a phone and a computer, I could have order it that way and had it delivered if I wanted it that badly. In fact I have my pick of some of the best pizza in the city where I live. The hardest part would be picking out which amazing pizza I wanted. Hell, my husband makes pizza from scratch. I am clearly not lacking in pizza and can obtain it through a variety of channels. The pizza was never the real issue here, but it sure says a lot about how my NM sees me.

After about thirty minutes I was ready to rip the phone out of DH's hand and making "get off the phone" motions to him. I was enraged at that point and I knew DH wasn't happy because his tone had changed to the same one he uses when he's talking to his mother. She kept talking to him about how it was a miscommunication. Gee, how did that happen? Let me think... E-sis asked the night before if we were coming to do that thing for NM and I said there was something we had to do, but maybe in the evening. NM asks E-sis if we are coming (instead of asking us), and E-sis says we aren't! Hm, who is at fault here? Yes, I could have called earlier and said "hey, we're coming up", but that street goes both ways and NM could have called me about it instead of asking a third party. She kept repeating herself about miscommunications, the stupid pizza, and not wanting to put him in the middle even though that was exactly what she was trying to do.

The finishing touch at the end was the text message she sent DH the next day about how she just needed to communicate how she felt and that she didn't want to put him the middle. It is not appropriate for her to try and use my husband to try and meet that need. It is in fact the exact opposite of keeping DH out of the middle, not that he would ever be "in the middle" anyway because he is 100% supportive of me in all this.

I'll try to write about "The Confrontation" at some point, but it can best be summed up with NM's opening and closing actions. She said no matter what I had to say she would always love me.

Then she literally walked out while I was still talking.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Continuing Aikido

I had a really hard time in class last time. We started practicing with staffs and I really wasn't prepared for it. I have a hard enough time knowing where one arm is in relation to the other without trying to figure out where a long stick is in relation to my body, too. So I had my first and likely not last break down in class where I started crying and chose to sit out.

Part of the reason is I didn't have as much mental endurance available because I hadn't gotten enough sleep and my shoulder was bothering me, I think. Then I was getting too warm because of the sun coming in the window on me, which always makes me uncomfortable/nauseated. Once the tears start I can't stop them, I can't see clearly, and I can't focus my mind. I tend to shut down. R-sensei offered to let me practice on just the first step by myself and work with me, but by that point I just couldn't keep going. Hell, I'm getting teary just typing about it and it's been a few days since it happened. I guess it was kind of like an anxiety attack with more self loathing, but not exactly. It's difficult to describe, but I imagine a lot of us have been there.

I sat down off to the side in a corner where I leave my stuff and thankfully I always keep tissues in my purse. Truth be told, it was a miracle I didn't go running out of the room and hide in the bathroom, so that's something, I suppose. S-sensei came over to me and asked offered to talk with or work with me, and I told her it was very hard for me to talk about. She nodded and let me be. Just trying to talk about things when this happens makes me cry more even if I want to talk about it, which in turn makes it even harder to talk about. I get in this negative feedback loop of feeling awful and breaking out of it is difficult. Just thinking about trying to explain things kept making me cry and every time I thought I had gotten a grip tears would start falling again. S-sensei came back again to check on me and let me know where she'd be if I wanted to talk, and eventually I was able to get up and walk to the restroom to change out of my gi.

Eventually I recovered enough to start talking without crying. I talked with R-sensei a bit but mostly I talked with S-sensei after class. They were wonderfully friendly and supportive. I told her how I'm very hard on myself and how one of the reasons I'm there is to try and work on that, and that I'm used to corrections being criticism/disapproval and that while rationally I know that isn't what's happening here it's difficult for me emotionally at times. I also told her about my very poor bodily coordination and spatial awareness, along with how when I get into that kind of state I tend to shut down. Basically, I summarized the issues I've mentioned here on my blog more so than I have to previously when I've mentioned them to my sensei. We talked about the class before last too, which I had felt very good after because I was starting to fall properly and was even able to start self correcting on some movements.

One of my sempai who attends classes on days I usually don't told me a few days earlier she'd started crying, too. It was kind of comforting to know people who have been doing this longer than me still have bad days like mine. Everybody was kind and no one got displeased with me for crying, unlike my NM and some teachers from elementary school. At any rate, I'm going to keep coming to class and keep working through all this baggage one step at a time.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Aikido Experience So Far

I haven't been at it very long, and I'm definitely not very good, but I think I love aikido. I touched on the subject a little last time and I want to expand on some of those points and talk more about what it has been like for me so far. First though, I'll be assigning some aliases to the people I'll be talking about, and since I'm supposed to be using Japanese terms in class, I'm going to try and use them here so I drill them into my head.

My sensei or instructors are a husband and wife team who own the dojo. I'll be referring to the husband as R-sensei and the wife as S-sensei. So far most of my classes have been with R-sensei. The classes are in the evening usually and small, but there are two very helpful sempai or senior students DH and I usually practice with. I'll call one E-sempai. Even though he is very large E-sempai is a gentle giant and likes to joke around that the other student who I will call P-sempai, is always rough with him and that he is thankful we are there so he can practice with somebody else. P-sempai is an older woman, probably in her early 50s and both of them help walk me through the moves slowly when I'm overwhelmed or can't remember what I'm supposed to do. All of these people have been amazingly helpful, patient, and understanding! There are a few other sempai, but they aren't as good at helping/teaching me as E-sempai and P-sempai. But overall, it's so unlike just about every other physical learning experience I've ever had, and the small class size really allows for me to get the help I need and ask questions, unlike when I attempted a dance class years ago, which had many more students than this.

So some might be wondering why pick aikido out of all the physical activities I could have picked. Mostly, it's because of DH. He is the one who told me about it and why he thought it would be a good choice for me. It's also something I've never done before and is something I definitely can't become good at quickly, so I think it's a good way to tackle my need to be perfect and to improve my bodily intelligence. DH also picked out the dojo we go to awhile back in the hopes one day I would be willing to start. As last year was coming to a close I told him I would be ready to start this year. DH was right about it being a good choice for me. While I'm not sure if this is the general atmosphere of all aikido classes or just mine, but I think the lack of competitions and tournaments has a lot to do with  helping create such a safe and comfortable learning environment. I am expected to make mistakes, I don't need to get it right the first time, I'm allowed to go at whatever pace I'm at as long as I show up and try, even if sometimes I'm only able to work on the first step of a move because I keep messing up. I also don't feel like I'm slowing down or seriously inconveniencing my anyone with my slow pace, which is a huge relief for a recovering people-pleaser like myself. Even E-sempai and P-sempai still get corrected on their form for beginning moves we're going over right now. They are helping us learn the beginning moves and by practicing them with us they are improving their form, so we are all benefiting from the process. I imagine this happens to our sensei when they go to seminars and practice with other instructors, too. However, I find it harder to work with the other sempai and feel myself getting anxious and teary more than I do with E-sempai and P-sempai. These other sempai haven't been around until this week, so I'm hoping as I practice with them more that it will get easier for us to work together. Everyone reassures me that when they started, they were fumbling along just like me and that in a year or two I'll be doing much better if I keep at it.

Sometimes I talk with R-sensei after class. I've told him some of my issues with perfectionism and getting frustrated with myself, that one reason I'm there is to try and work through those. He's been very understanding and told me the he thinks aikido brings up a lot of issues that you have to confront on your own since you can't take things out on an opponent. I think that's true and I'm glad, because confronting my issues is one of the reasons I'm there! As a bonus I'm learning about how to defend myself, too. All in all, even though this is a hard experience for me, I think it will help me become more confident in myself, as well as help me learn to treat myself more kindly. I'm still anxious, but I'm able to keep showing up at class instead of running away, so I already think I've made some progress and feel a little proud of myself for sticking to despite my insecurities.

If I ever have kids aikido is the extracurricular activity I'd want to involve them in!