Bear with me – I am going to think this out as I write it.
The narcissist thinks only of himself.
If you are reading this you can’t really grasp this. You are so busy thinking of everyone around you it makes no sense that the narc could care less. The only way I’ve come to understand this is with this statement:
The narc does not Deliberately think only of himself.
He is so conditioned to consider only his own needs that he automatically makes everything about himself.
This is how I like to envision this: the narc is like a blind person. (forgive me if I misrepresent being blind – I am just assuming, and I mean no offense or judgement).
When a blind person walks down the street they use a cane to feel the people or barriers around them. When they hit something with their cane they don’t care about the person/item they’ve hit. What they care about is how the presence of that person/item impedes their own movement. There might be a momentary “ooppss…sorry if I hurt you”, but ultimately what they are really concerned about is how they are impacted. Should they move left or right? Should they stop or speed up? What does the presence of the obstacle mean to them.
(Again – I really, really hope I’m not offending the blind. This is not my intent. If I were blind I assume my primary concern would be my own physical safety. All else, if considered, would be an afterthought)
This is the best way to view the thought process of the narcissist. The 1st priority is always how they are impacted. I won’t get in to why this happens but I do know that when they hit an obstacle, all they think about is how it impacts them.
Here’s a great example. When my ex 1st started romancing me he had a wife and a 14 month old son. He told me he stayed with his wife, who “clearly took advantage of him” because he was “afraid [his son] wouldn’t run up to him yelling ‘daddy, daddy” when he went to pick him up. Now I see that statement for what it was. He was saying “I’m afraid to leave because of how it might negatively impact me“. If you, as a normal person, put yourself in the same situation, you will find yourself wondering how your absence might impact your toddler, not how it will impact your toddler’s response to you. See the difference?
Those never targeted by a narc will think “well, duh, I see that quite clearly”.
Those of us targeted by the narc though, really have to examine this statement. We really have to dig deep. We have to fight our way through the narc’s victimization, through the narcs own abuse, to get to the heart of the matter, which should be the toddler, not the narc. We have been conditioned to feel empathy for the narc, and the narc alone.
How do we turn this around?
A few weeks ago my 15 year old requested a change in his visitation with his narcissistic father. Instead of being with him every Sunday and Monday he wanted to switch to every other weekend. His father readily agreed. His father’s response was “whatever he wants”. This is a typical narc response. In the narcs mind what he is saying is “all I care about is the minor child, granting him ‘whatever he wants'”. What he is really saying is “I don’t care. Agreeing to his desire makes me look good, so what the hell, I’ll go alone with it”
My son’s plan went like this: every other weekend he would take the Friday bus to his dad’s house. He would stay there until Sunday night, when he would return to me to get ready for school. In my sons imagination he was spending Friday night, all day Saturday and all day Sunday with his dad, every other week. A few years ago this would have been my vision also, but I’ve learned that the narc doesn’t think the way we do.
For the narcissistic, the thought process is this:
Taking the bus home to my new house (GF’s) house is not a good idea. I don’t want to commit to being there. I’ll tell him to go “home” and I’ll pick him up when I can. I mean really, I work hard and I can’t plan ahead, so he and his mom just need to hang, and I’ll pick him up as soon as I can. I’ll keep him for the weekend, because he can always sleep over a friends house or his brothers apartment if I’m going out.
Again….think PEOPLE – I Work Hard.
My hard work is the most important consideration in every plan we ever have to make. My hard work means that all of you need to accommodate me; because I work hard. As far as Sunday goes, well sure, there will be times that I can feed him dinner. But you know what? There will be times when I’ve worked hard all week, and I want Sunday to myself, or to me and my GF. Again, while the rest of you are sitting around eating bon-bons and living the good life, I’m working my ass off and you owe me.
If you are new to this you are reading these words and they are ringing a bell. You have probably heard them – often. But do you understand, to the core of your being, what they mean?
Here is what these words really mean.
Taking the bus home to my new house (GF’s) house is not a good idea. I’m not 100% sure I’ve captured her yet, so I need more time to make sure I’ve gaslighted her into believing that taking care of my children is her job.
I don’t want to commit to being there. I’ll tell him to go “home” and I’ll pick him up when I can. I have to keep my options open because, I mean seriously, who knows when a girl on the side might pop up, and I deserve my girls on the side. I work hard, I’m the “provider”, I need to be appropriately appreciated, and often that means taking advantage of a girl on the side. Get over it.
I mean really, I work hard and I can’t plan ahead because I’m so important, so he and his mom just need to hang, and I’ll pick him up as soon as I can. You contribute nothing to our family. In fact, you are a weight, dragging me down, creating more of a burden on my already difficult life, so why should I take you into consideration? Ridiculous!!
I’ll keep him for the weekend because he can always sleep over a friends house or his brothers apartment if I’m going out. Again….think PEOPLE – I Work Hard. My hard work is the most important consideration in every plan I’ll ever have to make. My hard work means that all of you need to accommodate me, because I work hard. What part of this don’t you understand? OK, maybe you work too, but you sit at a desk. I do physical work. You have a cush job – mine is hard. I need my rest and recreation more than you, because I earned it more than you did, and I am simply more important than you. Do I really need to list all the reasons????
As far as Sunday goes, well sure, there will be times that I can feed him dinner. But you know what? There will be times when I’ve worked hard, all week, and I want Sunday to myself, or to me and my GF. Again, while the rest of you are sitting around eating bon-bons and living the good life, I’m working my ass off, and you owe me. I will never, ever, put my sons needs above my own. I will never commit to a time schedule, because what is most important, at all times, is me, not him.
The only way to work with a narcissist is to understand how they think. Unfortunately, thinking like him is about as unnatural as thinking like a slug.
Here’s what you should do.
Force him to commit. Force him to tell you exactly when he will have his son and when he will bring him home. He will quickly agree to a solid plan. Why? Because you are no threat. In fact, he doesn’t even really read your emails, that is how inconsequential you are. When you email him saying “you will have our son from after school on Friday until 9PM Sunday”, he will agree because he is not paying attention. There is no reason for him to attend to you. You are the money grubbing ex; your emails mean nothing.
This is the hard part: you tell your son what has been decided. Make sure you phrase it properly: “your dad and I decided…….” If necessary you show him the emails. You won’t have to do this often (if at all) because your son will quickly catch on to the fact that his dad simply doesn’t give a shit. He will know, when you say “the plan dad committed to is Friday after school till 9PM Sunday” that this commitment means nothing. Your son knows – trust me.
Your final step is to be available to your son when he needs you. Does he want to come home to you Friday after school? Of course he can. Did he suddenly show up at 6 on a Sunday night, still needing his dinner? No problem, you’ll feed him. In other words, your job is to act as you did during your relationship with the narc – allow him to come and go as he pleases, and make sure your children are provided for.
This will piss you off. This should piss you off. If this doesn’t piss you off you need to read more about how the narcissist works. This will piss you off because you will understand that the narc is discounting you as a person, while inflating himself. This has been the story of your relationship, everything revolving around the narc, you playing second base, your needs coming in last after the narcs long list of priorities. This is bullshit, and you will feel it.
Keep at it. Why? You will emotionally leap frog over all of this bullshit. There will come a day that you understand how warped the narcissist is. There will come a day in which you realize that all that matters is the well being of yourself and your children. There will come a day in which, when the narc drops the child off early on a Sunday night, your primary concern will be “is my son alright”. On this day you won’t care that the narc is going to a party, or taking his new GF out to dinner, because you get it. You understand, in every cell of your body, that he is impaired and can really do no better.
Have you heard the premise that we use only 10% or our available brain power? The narc uses only 5%. The narc can not process the needs or wants of another AND attend to his own needs. In the end, this is really sad. Your narc will not have a happy ending. You might never know about it but it will be true – there is no way to have a happy ending when firing on only half of your cylinders. If you imagine a race car using only half of it’s power you can see how it won’t “win”.
You, on the other hand, are using all of your brain power. You are firing on all cylinders. You might not be fast out of the gate, but you will keep going, slow and steady, and you will ultimately win the race. Why? Because you see circular nature of life. You can see the ups, the downs and the inbetweens, all of which make up a full life. You understand that giving is as important as getting, that getting without giving is shallow, and can never be fulfilling. Getting without giving will never fill the space in us that requires attention – the soul, the spirit, the conscience- whatever you choose to call it.
One way streets are cramped and uncomfortable. Two way streets are open a freeing. Two way streets open possibility, while one way streets shut out possibility.
Essentially what I’m saying is: Suck It Up. & trust me. When people said this to me three years ago I said “you don’t understand”. It is true, the average person does not understand. I though, do understand, and I can tell you that if you stay the course, swallow your ego and do the right thing, all (or most) of the time, your life will turn out OK. As will the life of your children.
And isn’t that all that matters?