Monday, December 10, 2007


Good Judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment. Rita Mae Brown

With all due respect to Frank Sinatra, doing it “My Way” was, it turns out, way overrated for I too have a few regrets. Indeed, when you have had a narcissist in your life, you definitely have regrets.
Like ever having met him.
Somehow you think that you should have been able to see the N coming. You’ve asked yourself, usually over and over, the following questions :
How could I not have seen this coming?
How could I not have noticed his craziness?
How could I possibly have put up with his craziness for so long?
Why didn’t I draw boundaries?
Why didn’t I leave when he violated my boundaries?
Why didn’t I leave earlier?
How could I have been so stupid as to have children with him?
Was he always like this and I just didn’t notice?
How could I have ignored the warning signs?
How could I have let him do this to me?
If I had a nickel for each time I asked myself one of these questions, I’d be writing this from a flat on the Left Bank in Paris.

These are the regrets. One of the biggest challenges you will face is to let go of the regrets that you have. The years you wasted on him, the money he burned through, how stupid he made you feel, your failure to draw boundaries, the embarrassment you suffered when he did and said crazy things, and more. Much more.
If only. If only you had known.
So stop already.
You could not have known. That’s the point. These guys are good. They do bait and switch with the very best. They start out as Dr. Jekyll and turn into Mr. Hyde. Even trained mental health practitioners cannot easily spot an N. The N you were with ought to be on the stage, his performance was so good, so complete and so total. Barrymore was never as good as an N who is trying to suck you in. The false front of Narcissism is impenetrable.
One counselor I know of dated three Ns in a row. It took her, with all of her mental health education, expertise and experience, months each time to be able to discern that the guy she was dating was an N. If she could not spot them coming, how could you? This is particularly true if you had no mental health training, experience and maybe did not even have mental health information such as the fact that there is such a thing as a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In view of your lack of information and his expertise at hiding who he is, how can you possibly expect yourself to have somehow discerned that the guy you were involved with was a narcissist?
You can’t.
The N’s ability to fool the most discerning woman is downright amazing. Not that I qualify as the most discerning woman on the planet, but I actually tried to logically look at the N I married before I married him. His narcissism was so deeply buried and so carefully hidden by his fake persona, the “false front of narcissism,” that I never, in my wildest imagination guessed that it was possible that the man I married would morph into a full blown, psychotic, verbally abusive, threatening-physical-abuse narcissist.
I never saw it coming.
In fairness to me, I had no mental health experience, expertise or training. I didn’t even take Psychology 101 in college. It was only after I left him and found out that he had a narcissistic personality disorder that I began to read up on NPD. Then, and only then did I begin to understand.
As soon as I understood, I began to regret. In regretting, I was beating myself up for having gotten involved with an N. As some wise person said, “The moment they stop beating you up, you start.”
Beating yourself up with these questions is a complete and utter waste of your valuable time, time that you should be using to enjoy the present and to create your future. How can you possibly enjoy the present when you are focused on the past? How can you decide what it is that you want to do to create a future when you are busy examining and re-examining how on earth you, smart cookie that you are, ever got involved with the N in the first place?
Beating yourself up with these questions perpetuates your victimhood. You are only a victim as long as you choose to be a victim. However, the very moment that you stop lamenting how you got to be a victim, you begin to live in the ‘now’. It is only when you live in the now that you have a shot at creating the fabulous life that you deserve.
Even worse, beating yourself up with these questions keeps you focused on the N. Haven’t you have wasted quite enough time on him? Isn’t it time that you focused on you and not him? To the extent that you are focused on him, the N is still controlling your life and defining who you are. Is that what you want? Are you truly going to let him define who you are even now, after you’ve escaped him?
By letting go of the past, I do not mean that you must forget what you learned in your relationship with the N. Oh, no. You had lessons to learn, else you would not have chosen an N nor allowed an N to choose you. You must learn those lessons or you will be doomed to repeat them. There’s a scary thought; recreating the same situation with yet another N.
However, even the most resolute of women will occasionally entertain the stray thought that we cannot quite believe that we ever put up with the N and his crazy and crazymaking behavior for even one nanosecond. This is particularly true for bright, accomplished woman as invariably we are for the Ns choose only “high status” women. After all, who is best suited to reflect the “glory” that an N is entitled to but a smart, lovely, accomplished woman? At this point you need to remind yourself once again the N does “bait and switch” like a champ. Your only “flaw”, if you can call it that, is that you believed and trusted a man who said he loved you. Is that really a flaw?
Not so much, no.
There is not much sense in crying over spilt milk. What is done, is done. The past cannot be changed and your past is part of who you are. As the Buddha said, “What is, is.” Let go of your astonishment that you, fabulous woman that you are, were ever duped by the narcissistic bozo on the bus. Let it go. It is over. It is done.
Let go of regrets, “if onlys” and what ifs. Remember, as a woman who formerly associated with, partnered with or married to an N, you are in excellent company, yours truly included. Many bright, beautiful, accomplished, superior women were fooled, often for years. Even after the discovery of who and what the N was, it took many of us years to escape. So, let go of the past and breathe a sigh of relief that you are now free of the N and resolutely turn your face to the future.
In the words of the Reverend Dr. King, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Thursday, November 29, 2007


He entered the territory of lies without a passport for return.
Graham Greene

The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.
George Bernard Shaw

The N’s are pathological liars. That means that they will lie for no reason at all, they will lie when the truth would serve them better and they will lie even when it is highly possible that they will get caught. They lie to make themselves look good in the eyes of others and to make themselves feel as if they are bigger, faster, tougher, stronger or smarter. They lie in order to try to convince themselves that they are "someone", that they are alive and that they matter. The N’s have been lying to themselves for so long about who they are that it is no big stretch for them to lie to others about anything. I have often wondered if the N to whom I was married even understood the concept of truth. Does he just say whatever pops into his head and assume that whatever he thinks is truth? One wonders.
His lies are too deliberate, too calculated to cause harm, too obviously puff pieces. He just lies because he gets away with it. At least, he sort of gets away with it, as long as you don’t count the loss of friends and family.
The N to whom I was married lied early on about how old he was when he was graduated from high school. He said he was graduated at age 16. The implication was that he was a regular Doogie Hauser. However, once I realized that he was a pathological liar who lied about any and every thing, I did the math. He was graduated from high school at age 17 ½. Hardly remarkable.
The N lied to our kids about me during our divorce proceeding. This, of course, came as no surprise. One of his early lies was that I had burned certain documents. The good news is that I had possession of the original document in question together with it’s original raised notary seal. When I pulled the document out and showed it to our daughter, she began to question her father.
This was a good thing.
Our daughter soon realized that the N frequently did not tell even her the truth. The worst of it for her was the Great Diamond Earrings Caper. The N gave her a pair of earrings and with great ceremony announced that they were diamond earrings. (You can probably see this one coming, can’t you?) Eventually, she went to a jeweler to have the earrings cleaned. The jeweler handed them back to her and said, “We do not clean cubic zirconium.” She was horrified to realize that he had lied to her about the earrings and that the “stones” were not big ass diamonds after all. She had worn the earrings for years, believing that at least at this one point in time, her father loved her.
She threw the earrings away.
The N will tell lies about you during your divorce and even afterwards. This is a certainty. After all, you left him. To the Ns, all is fair game and he is entitled to destroy you any way that he can as punishment for the high crime of abandoning him. In the N’s view, he is particularly entitled to destroy your reputation, or at least, what is left of it after hanging around with him.
The N to whom I was married told a series of lies to everyone who would listen during our epic divorce. He told people that I had suffered a nervous breakdown; that I had left and no one knew where I was for 2 weeks; and that I had become mentally ill. These claims were unsupported by anything that looked like proof or even corroboration. Simply because he said it, everyone was supposed to believe that this lie was true. The mental illness lie was particularly ironic in view of his diagnosed-by-a-psychiatrist, indisputable mental illnesses: clinical depression and narcissistic personality disorder.
The lies continued. The N told others in our small, rural, homophobic community that I was a lesbian. That lie was actually funny to most if not all who heard this. One couple to whom he told this reportedly rolled on the floor with laughter. Fortunately, this is such an obvious line of divorce-related bull that I don’t think that anyone believed it. It was clearly the raving of a lunatic, angry, soon-to-be-ex spouse. As such, it had all of the believability of my ex-husband; exactly none.
The only way to handle this Nixonian level of dirty tricks is to ignore the lies. You have to rise above them. The moment that you try to disprove the lies or even argue that you are not a lesbian using your two children as proof, you give the lie a level of credibility that it did not have before. The moment that you try to disprove the lies or even argue that you are not a lesbian using your two children as proof, you give the lie a level of credibility that it did not have before. While I did not really care very much whether acquaintances thought I was a lesbian or not, the effective tactic that I used was to ignore the lie.
I recommend that you do the same. Ignoring the N is always the worst possible fate for them. They want your (and everyone else’s) attention and will do and say anything, anything at all, to get it. By ignoring them, you cause them to suffer the worst possible fate that they can imagine: irrelevance.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


If you can't go around it, over it, or through it, you had better negotiate with it. Ashleigh Brilliant

The two keys to negotiating are superior information and learning to smile and say, "No, no, no, no, no" until your tongue bleeds. Unknown

There is a really wonderful children’s book that I read over and over to my children when they were tiny entitled “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff. The story is about the fact that when you give a mouse a cookie, the mouse demands more and more until he owns you and your entire house.
The author must have known a narcissist. This is how a Narcissist negotiates. They always want more. And more.
For those of you who did not marry or enter into any sort of business relationship with the N, you can skip this discussion and consider yourself either very fortunate or just plain smarter than the rest of us. You, lucky soul, can escape the force of the N’s sucking black hole by simply leaving, in the middle of the night if necessary. I strongly recommend that you do just that; run, flee, leave the N just as fast as you can if you haven’t already. Consider anything of yours that the N still has in his possession simply lost. Trust me, the cost of trying to get your possessions back is much higher than the cost of simply replacing them. Write your losses off as a lesson learned under the “School of Hard Knocks” and know that it could have been worse.
You could have married him.
For those of you who married an N, you are not so lucky. You are going to have to negotiate with the N. Good luck. You’re going need it.
The N’s do not negotiate well for quite a number of reasons. First, as a narcissist, the N believes that he was the one responsible for accumulating whatever you have. All success is due to him. You were unimportant to the marital financial success, just as you were and are unimportant in every other aspect. To the narcissist, you simply and completely did not and do not matter in a real and fundamental way. It is irrelevant whether you were a stay at home wife or whether you worked outside of the home. It does not matter whether you were married one year or thirty. The N’s overweening sense of self-importance tells him (and he tells everyone else) that but for him, you would be nothing, have nothing and consequently you are nothing. Therefore, according to him, you are entitled to nothing.
Second, irrespective of the facts, basic fairness, common sense, and certainly irrespective of the law on gifts and inheritances, the N believes that he is entitled to anything that he wants. In addition to anything that he actually desires, he will keep anything that you would like to have simply in order to deny it to you. This is true even if the N really does not want “it”, whatever “it” is. He wants “it” as long as you want “it” even if he has never used “it” and never will. The N’s rage at your “abandonment” of him (even though he quite literally drove you away by his emotional, verbal or physical abuse) will kick in when you attempt to negotiate a divorce settlement.
Third, you are not really a person to the N. The entire concept of separate personhood is foreign to Ns. People are only useful tools to the N. The feelings, goals, dreams and desires of the tools are irrelevant except in relation to the N. Other people’s sole existence on the planet is for the purpose of being used by the N. Your function was to serve his needs. However, you dumped him. You are therefore no longer a useful tool. Because you are no longer a useful tool, the N has no empathy for you, no care and no consideration.
Negotiating with someone who has no empathy for you and is angry at you for leaving him is tough.
Do not expect the N to be rational, logical or objective about you or your legal rights. Certainly do not expect him to consider what is “fair.” Fairness is a concept that is not in his lexicon. You are no longer useful therefore you should get nothing, zero, nada.
The N’s have no respect for the legal system. The law simply does not apply to them. Therefore, they have no interest in dividing property according to the law. This is particularly true if the N you were married to is a lawyer, as mine was. The N I was married to knew exactly what the legal system would and would not do. He knew that he could do anything, no matter how outrageous and legal system would do nothing to him. He knew he could lie with impunity. He knew that either the Judge would believe him in which case he would win and that if the Judge did not believe him, there would be no consequences for his lies.
Because the Ns are pathological liars, you can expect the N to do what I like to call “Revisionist History” during your divorce negotiations. Revisionist History is the story that the N is now telling about you. The N’s Revisionist History is unlikely to be based upon anything that looks remotely like reality. Not coincidentally, the N carefully creates his Revisionist History in order to show what a wonderful guy he is and what a do-nothing leech you are.
For example, the N whom I was associated with propounded a line of Revisionist History that was both illogical and incredible. He and I jointly owned our law firm. We worked together for 10 years. I did the litigation; he did the business, tax planning and estate planning. We were in the same office, working together every day.
However, during our divorce, the N’s line of Revisionist History was that I stayed home all day every day and did nothing (presumably eating the proverbial bon bons). Who exactly it was that handled the litigation for our firm, how all of those timesheets and billing statements were generated for me and where the heck those clients who were mine came from the N did not bother to explain. I was a leech, according to the N.
In addition, according to the N's Revisionist History story, he was the one who stayed home with the children when they were sick.
If I was a stay-at-home “leech” (his word, not mine), where I was when our children were sick? This the N did not bother to explain for, of course, it is inexplicable and not coincidentally, untrue. This Revisionist History came from a man who never stayed home with the children even once when they were ill.
Facts are, of course, irrelevant to the Ns for they are pathological liars.
Winning is everything to the Ns. They especially need to win over you, the person who is abandoning them. Thus, they will do anything to win, whether fair or foul. Watch out for foul. Foul can be pretty darned foul. Do not have great hopes that the legal system to protect you, for it most likely will not.
Fighting keeps you in the N's life. Like a bad four year old, if they cannot obtain positive attention from you, they will seek negative attention. There is no attention that is more negative than a high-conflict divorce.
So, how do you handle negotiating a division of property from the N whom you were married to?
Ask for far more than you actually want or expect.
The N believes that he is God’s Personal Gift to the negotiating table so you have got to appear unreasonable at first so that he can negotiate you downward. Hopefully, what he’ll negotiate you down to is what you wanted in the first place.
Play to his ego with flattery.
Make him think that he is the big cheese and you are just a little ole woman as in the Scarlet O’Hara-ish “Oh, whatever shall I do?” Make it clear that you would be nothing but for his expertise, his financial acumen, his brilliance. Yes, this approach stinks and is offensive, ridiculous, unliberated, nonsensical falsity but ask yourself the following question: Do you want to get away from him or do you want to be enmeshed with him for years upon years in the slow-moving and highly expensive legal system? You can suck up to him or pay your lawyer tens of thousands of dollars to have the legal system grind you up and spit you out. The benefit of the suck up Scarlet O’Hara approach is that it costs you nothing and may lead to softening him up long enough to get a decent deal.
Do not denigrate him or challenge his lies at the negotiating table..
He does not wish to be reminded that but for his spendthrift ways, you two would be better off financially. He does not wish to be reminded that but for you, he would be bankrupt. He does not wish to be reminded of any of his financial misdealings and he certainly will not admit them. His rather complete inability to manage money may be an objective fact but this is not helpful at the negotiating table.
You are not trying to convince anyone of anything at the negotiating table. You do not care what his lawyer thinks of you nor, frankly, do you care what your lawyer thinks of you. S/he works for you. You are not friends. So do not bother telling your side of the story at the negotiating table. No one cares. Ignore his false statements. Do not get upset or angry at his lies and do not respond to his ridiculous statements no matter how outrageously false they are.
Keep in mind the goal: getting away from him. Fast. With as much as you can.
Never let him know what items you care most about getting.
The items of personal property that I wanted most disappeared. The N removed my jewelry from our safe deposit box in southwestern Colorado, denied that these pieces of jewelry had ever been there and denied knowing anything about them. Now, the jewelry that he stole (not to put too fine a point on it) was not particularly valuable. However, it was mine and I wanted it. The N knew that I wanted my jewelry back. So it all disappeared.
I obtained a copy of the check in/check out sheet from the Bank, showing that immediately before separation he had been in the safe deposit box three times on one day and that the box was empty immediately thereafter when I had it drilled (he would not give me the safe deposit box key). But these facts did not prove what items had actually been in the box when he was there on that day. So, the N to whom I was married has and will retain my jewelry.
Oh well.
I also wanted an old English Writ (a 200+ year old English document) that was hanging on the wall of my former office in “his” small office building. My Writ had been given to me a couple of years before marriage by a friend who picked it up in London on her first trip there. The writ was, therefore, my separate property and was legally mine. The writ no doubt was very inexpensive. Even 20 years later, a replacement Writ could be obtained for $25 on the internet. But the N did not want to give my Writ to me. At first, the N admitted in sworn testimony at his deposition that my Writ was hanging on the wall in my old office. He testified he would give it to me when the current tenants moved out. During the divorce, I kept asking about my Writ by email and he repeatedly promised by email to give it to me. Somehow, he never quite found the time to do so.
Eventually, I asked the Judge to Order that the N turn my Writ to me. At this point the N’s story changed for he had figured out by now that my Writ was something that I actually wanted. Now, for the first time, he denied ever having my Writ. Instead, he testified that my Writ had been destroyed long ago.
Not even the Judge bought this change in the N’s party line.
Eventually, I went to the office, walked in, handed the then-tenant’s staff a copy of the Court Order and walked out with my writ. The N called the police and tried to have me arrested for trespassing and theft. Fortunately, the police had no interest in arresting me in view of the Court Order.
The moral of this story is never indicate to the N that you really want something, even if it is legally and morally yours. You can expect that the N will not give it to you even if he personally does not want or need it. Do not rely on the Court system to get your property for you for the legal system is unlikely to be of much if any assistance.
Instead, I recommend that you feign disinterest or casual, offhand interest. A gentle, “Sure, yes, I’d like that,” is more effective than "It is mine; you have admitted it is mine, now give it to me." Try to avoid the bull in the china shop approach I used.
Pick out something that you do not really want and insist on getting it in the negotiations; capitulate at the last minute so that he can "win."
Since the Ns want, nay, need to defeat you, give them something that they can defeat you with. Pick something out that you do not care about and demand it. Claim that it has sentimental value to you. Claim that it is of critical importance to you. Claim whatever you think will work and add new arguments about why you are entitled to this whenever they occur to you. Do whatever you need to in order to establish the item’s importance to you.
Then, in order to get the deal you want, capitulate on this item. Let the N have it. They will feel superior, as if they “won”. You will get what you want: out.
Make sure that any agreement you make can be completed immediately if at all possible.
Do not take any long term payouts if you can avoid it. Avoid any agreement that requires his cooperation over a period of time. The one thing that you can be sure will happen is that the N will change his mind about what he has agreed to immediately after the ink is dry, if not before. The fact that you entered into a contract is irrelevant. The fact that your agreement has been made a Court Order is irrelevant. The N will change his mind, particularly if your agreement requires him to pay you anything. Do not rely on the legal system to enforce your agreement for the law is rarely effective and is highly expensive.
The N with whom I was associated “settled” with me a couple of times. The first time, he called me within a week and left a message on my machine repudiating our entire agreement. He later filed a motion with the Colorado Court asking that the agreement be set aside even though (1) we were both represented by counsel, (2) a sitting judge was our mediator, and (3) we dictated the terms and agreed to it in open Court in front of the Trial Judge on that same day. When the Trial Judge would not let him out of the agreement, the N sued me in Federal Court in Arizona, a state in which neither of us had lived for 10 years, to get out of the Colorado divorce settlement agreement.
This tactic did not work. But it still required quite a bit of my time and energy to defeat his claim. Had I not been an attorney, it would have cost me between $5,000 and $10,000 to defeat his claim.
Because a leopard does not change his spots, I was better prepared the second time that we settled. The second time around, the N simply ignored those portions of the settlement agreement that he did not wish to abide by. However, as the majority of the second agreement was self-executing (in that a deed of trust protected my interest), I simply ignored the N’s refusal to play by the rules.
The moral: if you can, obtain an agreement that does not require long term payouts or any cooperation from the N.
Exploit their moment of weakness.
If you get lucky enough to catch the N at something whether it is cheating on you, stealing from you, doing something he had promised not to or any other thing that you can use as leverage to get out of this marriage, exploit it immediately. The N may have one temporary moment of seeming remorse. If so, go for it. Do not hesitate. You can depend on the remorse disappearing shortly. Use what is available to get away from the N.
Negotiating with an N is difficult. It is, however, not impossible. The only possible saving grace at the negotiating table is that the N probably hates paying lawyers more even than he hates the fact that you might end up with something out of this marriage.
Think about these tactics and use the ones that work for you. Keep your goal in sight and do what you have to in order to obtain a relatively decent “deal” and become free.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one’s self. All sin is easy after that.

Pearl Bailey

I think that’s the problem. That’s why the Ns cheat everyone they can, sooner or later. The Ns have cheated themselves by never looking into their hearts, never confronting their fears, and living the lie of pretending to be something they are not (the “false front of narcissism”). After all of this internal pretense, cheating the rest of us comes easy.
Whatever the reason, the Ns are cheaters. They will lie, cheat, steal and hurt without compunction or conscience. The only times that they do not cheat are when (1) the punishment is significant and likely to be immediate or (2) the other person or entity is of higher status than they are and they want something from that high status person.
You are one of the people that the Ns will cheat.
The N to whom I was married cheated ex-wife #1 out of most of what they had accumulated in their marriage and took great pleasure in bragging about that fact. According to him, she got nothing but dishes and household goods while he got all of the real property. Now that I know who and what he is, I suspect that she, smart lady, simply gave up her interest in the real estate just to get rid of him.
The N had a good chuckle a few years later when his ex-wife #1 (I am ex wife #2) called some years after their divorce to accuse him of switching the diamond in the ring he had bought her. During their divorce, he insisted that her diamond ring be appraised. The ring was a gift from him to her and therefore her separate property – he, an attorney, knew this; she, as a non-attorney, apparently did not. The ring had been purchased from a reputable jeweler and thus she had a description of the diamond’s size, color and clarity. Sadly, ex-wife #1 allowed the N to take her ring to a jeweler who was a client of the N’s. Some years later, ex-wife #1 had occasion to have the ring cleaned and appraised again for insurance purposes. The diamond then in her ring did not have the same size, color and clarity as her original diamond. A switcheroo had been made.
Surprise, surprise, surprise.
The N thought this was hysterically funny. He claimed that his jeweler must have made the switch, unbeknownst to him, of course. I wondered about this at the time. Now I am confident that the N had the jeweler make the switch in order to cheat ex-wife #1.
If he will cheat her, he’ll cheat you too.
If the N with whom you were or are associated cheats the government, watch out. This can be risky to you. The N to whom I was married was a tax lawyer and took great pride in”handling” our income tax returns. I knew during our marriage that he was “aggressive” in claiming deductions but I assumed that he had not gone too far. After all, he knew well the power of the lRS. When I finally looked at our tax returns during the divorce, I was appalled and more than a little worried. I immediately researched the “innocent spouse doctrine", a rule of law that protects spouses (usually women) who simply sign off on the tax returns that their husbands prepare, as I did. If you filed tax returns with an N, I suggest you look them over and hope that the IRS never targets him or you will spend your days explaining to the IRS that you had nothing to do with the preparation of the tax returns.
There are other, many other, examples of the Ns cheating. Their cheating is part and parcel of their need to feel superior. Because they are superior humans, they are entitled and need not obey the rules that us peons live by. Because they are superior, they are smarter than everyone else and will not get caught.
Or so they believe.
If the N with whom you were associated has an opportunity, he will cheat you notwithstanding his claims of undying love and soul-mateism. The N’s alleged love does not extend to sharing “his” money or property. Your money and property are jointly "ours" to the N while his remains his alone.

Funny how that works.
Watch out if he prepares documents such as trusts or deeds for your signature. Do not under any circumstances rely on his alleged “love” for you in signing such documents.
If at all possible, do not let him treat your contributions to your jointly owned business as less than his. For example, in our first legal corporation, I allowed the N to hold 90% of the stock and I held 10%. Thus, he was entitled to 90% of the profits even though we both devoted full time to our business and did not divide the income by who had earned it. I also allowed him to pay “us” by cutting a check to him. This had the effect of making it seem that he was making all of the money and I was making none. Fortunately, we eventually dissolved this corporation so it had no effect on my eventual divorce entitlement.
A friend of mine did the same thing. She worked full time and was instrumental in “their” business but all paychecks were paid to him. Thus, no payments to her social security fund were made and it looked as if she was not working even though she clearly worked full time.
I look back now at my actions in horror. I am a lawyer who should have known better but made just about no effort to protect herself. I have to ask myself, “What was I thinking?” The answer is that I believed that he loved me. I did not know he was a narcissist. I had no idea that he would cheat me. I had no plans to get a divorce and fully expected that we would live happily every after. So what did it matter who held what number of shares in our professional corporation? What did it matter who got the paycheck? The answer is: it does matter. Only a selfish man who loves only himself would want you to have less than what you are entitled to.
The moral: protect yourself. Watch everything. Get copies of records and keep them at a girl friend’s house. Trust nothing that the N has to say.
If you are separated but not yet divorced, look hard at the money trail. Is money missing? I found out mid divorce that the N to whom I was married had told male clients that when contemplating a divorce, they should put cash in either Swiss accounts or the Caymans. Needless to say, given the fact that some of “our” money seems to have “disappeared”, I suspect that the N to whom I was married has Swiss or Grand Cayman bank accounts.
Another form of cheating is the N’s love life. From a sexual perspective, the N’s seem to come in two flavors: sexless and overly sexual. The overly sexual Ns will, from all reports, cheat on you at every opportunity without any compunction.
One N would wake his wife up at 3:00 a.m. to have sex with her. No foreplay was involved and her pleasure was not relevant. She eventually refused his “advances”. Her refusal was baffling to him.
Other Ns are known for their appalling list of during-the-marriage/relationship “conquests.” They will have sex with anyone they can and will say anything in order to do so. This over-the-top sexuality is part of the Ns view of themselves. The not only think that they are entitled to have sex with anyone they want to as they are, in their view, the best and smartest guy in the universe, but they believe that they are smarter than everyone else so they can get away with it without getting caught. When they do get caught, they are neither apologetic nor regretful. After all, they are simply doing what they are entitled to do, which is any thing they want irrespective of any hurt that their actions might cause you.
The N to whom I was married was of the first variety, sexless. The sex in the first half of my marriage was, after the initial stage, infrequent. However, I was working so hard at that time and was so busy with our two little children whom I was solely responsible for that I was ok with the infrequent sex. After all, I was tired. Make that exhausted.
The sex in the second half of our marriage was non-existent. In fairness to him, at this time the N had a number of physical problems, such as chronic sinus problems and alleged neck pain. Nonetheless, withholding something that the other person wants, especially sex, is a great way to control them and control is always the N’s ultimate goal.
The bottom line here is that the N’s cheat. Their cheating is part of their entitlement, part of their view of themselves as a superior person, part of their pathological lying. The Ns are good at cheating.
We women are not good at protecting ourselves. We need to get better at protecting ourselves, planning for the possible demise of our relationships and thinking through the consequences of buying into whatever that men want. We need to draw boundaries. I did not do this. But then, I am writing this so that you do not make the same mistakes that I did. In the words of Rita Mae Brown, “Good Judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment. “
Ain’t it the truth.

Monday, November 26, 2007


The greed of gain has no time or limit to its capaciousness. Its one object is to produce and consume. It has pity neither for beautiful nature nor for living human beings. It is ruthlessly ready without a moment's hesitation to crush beauty and life.
Rabindranath Tagore
When I read this quote I thought, “Poet Tagore sure has met a narcissist or two in his time, hasn’t he?” for this quote exemplifies the Ns approach to money.
If you married or were attached to an N, it will be no surprise that a lot of your money is gone. Just flat gone, as in disappeared. The N no doubt used money to control you during the relationship. He stole money from you, hid money from you and spent wildly both your personal money and your “joint” money in an effort to make himself feel better.
That is what Ns do.
That certainly is what the N to whom I was married did.
Money to the Ns represents all that they want to be. For the N, money is success, power, control, superiority and evidence of their purported good taste – all of the things that they think they are but in point of fact are not.
The Ns are typically control freaks about money, alternating between big spending in order to portray themselves to the outside world as Mr. Generous and niggardly doling out nickels and dimes in an effort to control you.
They are often spendaholics. The Ns spend money because it makes them feel powerful and important, rather like the proverbial bar fly who buys a round for the house. The Ns spend in order to fill the hole in their heart. They somehow believe that material things will fill their emptiness. Little do they know that no amount of money or “stuff” will fill that Grand Canyon-sized hole.
The N to whom I was married was ambitious when I met him and was anxious to be financially successful. That was not unusual in a young lawyer. What was unusual were his attitudes about money that were revealed over the course of time.
The N portrayed himself as the Great and Powerful Oz about money. He knew everything, invested perfectly and was a brilliant money manager. At least, that is what he thought of himself and told everyone about himself. Actually, this was partially accurate. Some investments that he got us into worked out beautifully. Others did not. When we lost our money in a particular deal, that deal was simply never mentioned again unless he chose to assign blame to someone else. After all, all losses were due to someone else’s perfidy or stupidity for he was never wrong.
The N I was married to spent money like the proverbial drunken sailor both during the time that we were working full time as well as later. When we were practicing law full time, he bought my clothes, art, and darned near anything else that he wanted. I did not watch how much he spent for a couple of reasons. First, we were not on a fixed income so I did not think much about what he was spending. Second, I was working so hard that I did not have time to watch what he spent.
Big mistake.
Originally, while we were working, I was grateful that he bought all of my clothes. This, by the way, does not mean that we went shopping together. Oh, no. He simply looked through catalogs and bought my clothes by telephone in this pre-internet time period. At the time, I thought that he was being a loving and supportive husband as I was just too busy with my job and our kids to go shopping. Now I know that his purchases were all about making him look good in the sense of his oft-repeated phrase: “Look what I bought my wife”. His purchases had the added benefit (to him only, of course) of controlling what I spent. There was no need for me to buy anything because he bought it all. If I didn’t like what he bought, too bad. Returning anything he had purchased for me that I did not like generated such a huge fight that I simply avoided the fight by not wearing the things that were not to my taste.
The Ns art purchases were a variation on this same theme. He was all about being the big cheese by meeting the artist so he could brag that he had done so, having the artist deliver the art to him, and being slavishly fawned upon by those stores where he bought art. He bought Native American kachinas at the Heard Museum and was on a first name basis with the Heard Museum store manager, a fact which he was overly and ridiculously proud of. The buying process was important to him, much more important than the art, some of which never saw the light of day. Owning art was more important than enjoying it.
The N went to great lengths to watch every dime and to keep as much of our income as possible, even going so far as to cheat on our tax returns. Because he was a tax lawyer, he ran way, way over the honesty line. Worse yet, he got away with it.
The worst of his narcissistic qualities in general and the money-related issues particularly did not appear in high relief until we retired from the practice of law and moved to Southwestern Colorado due entirely to his health. Once I no longer had my own, independent income and career, the N to whom I was married allowed his narcissism full rein and eventually disintegrated into psychosis. The N knew that it would be more difficult for me to leave him without a job and my own independent source of funds. To say that he took advantage of this situation understates the case. Not only he did not give me any “credit’ for giving up my career, my friends and my life for the sake of his health, but in his view I was beholding to him for in retirement the majority of our monthly income came from his disability insurance policy. Therefore, in his view, he was entitled to spend what I had previously thought was “our” money and I was entitled to nothing. Despite the fact that I had given up my career to care for him, in his view, I was now a parasite.
Despite our substantial retirement income, he spent every dime and more. Each month he would charge all of our credit cards to the max. Each month we would have huge fights about how much money he was spending on “stuff” that we did not need and that I did not want. Each month he would promise not to do spend money. Each month he violated that promise and continued to spend, blowing through all of our income and more. He spent so much money that we rarely paid our bills on time. Somehow the utility company was to be paid after, and only after, he had spent what he wanted to on more “stuff.”
Worse yet, I had to account for how I spent money. I will never forget him pulling the Wal-Mart receipt out of the bag and screaming at me about how much money I had spent on groceries and t-shirts for the kids.
Once I even bought my son shoes on layaway over a two month period just in order the inevitable fight that would ensue when he found out how much our son’s shoes cost. Apparently, the N believed that our children’s feet should not grow or that tennis shoes should be free.
Good luck with that one.
On another occasion, the N wanted a new large easy chair and hassock. I said no. Not only was there no place for it (and we had plenty of ugly furniture purchased by him already) but it cost a ridiculous amount of money. He agreed not to buy it. The next thing I knew, the chair and hassock were being delivered by UPS. Another long, ugly, ultimately pointless fight ensued.
The N and the UPS guy became great friends for the UPS guy came to our remote rural home nearly every day bringing the N’s latest catalog purchases. The things he bought were not all for himself. Oh, no. Some of it was for the kids and I. However, most of the stuff he bought for the kids and I, we really did not want. After all, how many doodads that sit on shelves does any one person need?
During our divorce, the N acted as all Ns do: self important. According to him, all of the money that we ever made was made by him. Despite being a full time litigator for “our” law firm, I was somehow extraneous to the income that we had generated.
Immediately prior to the date that I filed for divorce, the N to whom I was married “took” (read: “stole”) as much of “his” money, “our” money and my money as he could. His efforts were facilitated by our small town banker, a pro-male, men-handle-the-money kind of guy. The Banker allowed the N, without my knowledge or permission, to cash two certificates of deposit. One was a joint CD which required both of our signatures. The second was a CD in my name alone. Neither should have been cashed without my signature. All of these funds went into the N’s pocket. It took three years, a lawsuit against the bank, and a lot of effort to pry any of these funds out of the N’s greedy, grasping hands.
Needless to say, I switched banks.
Other Ns blow through money in other ways. Some are gambling addicts. One N whom I know of is a day trader. His stock trading, often for huge amounts of money, is the method by which he makes himself feel powerful and in control. At first his wife did not know about his trading, or at least she did not know how much he was losing each day. When she found out, she threw a fit at the large sums that he had gambled and lost. Consequently, the N agreed while in a marriage counseling session (always a waste of time with Ns but she didn’t know that then) to give up day trading. Despite his specific agreement not to day trade, he simply continued to day trade without telling her. In short, he lied. He persisted in day trading despite his explicit promise not to until his then-wife caught him. She rightly and smartly divorced him immediately.
The good news here is that once you get free of the N, you get to pay your bills on time. You can buy whatever you want to, big or small, without the need to obtain preapproval and without a post-purchase fight. If you make a financial mistake, no one gives you a hard time or makes you feel stupid.
Financial freedom is waiting for you when you are done with the N.

They Really Are Everywhere

The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.
John Milton

Once you begin to recognize narcissism, you see N’s everywhere. Literally. You begin to wonder if you have lost your mind. Are you seeing things?
Nope. You are correctly spotting N’s everywhere for they actually are everywhere.
Think about it. In the U.S., there are no rewards for non-narcissists and plenty of rewards for the Ns. Our society, particularly American industry, rewards narcissistic behavior. All one has to do is read the newspaper to recognize that N’s are particularly prevalent among the Captains of Industry in the U.S. For example, according to the press, the Enron guys had “a grandiose sense of self-importance”, fantasies of unlimited power and success (as well as apparently the fantasy that they would never get caught), a sense of entitlement, were “interpersonally exploitative” in that they took advantage of others for their own gain, lacked empathy in that they were unable to identify with those that they took from and were arrogant and haughty.
They were N’s.
Similarly, the Tyco C.E.O. Dennis Kozlowski was certainly an N in his $6,000 shower curtains and his million dollar birthday party for his wife, featuring an ice sculpture of Michelango’s David urinating vodka, all paid for by corporate (read: shareholder) funds.
A high percentage of American C.E.O.’s are clearly narcissists.
If you have narcissistic lessons that you needed to learn, you may be able to look back at your past and see the narcissism in each of the long string of guys that you dated. This is certainly my experience. From my dad who was a 1950’s rule the roost kind of guy, to my first, demanding boyfriend, to the “player” I dated in college, to the N whom I married, I have a long and distinguished history of involvement with N’s.
So the obvious next question is “Why?”
I have asked myself this question a million times. Did I prefer the Ns’ balsy, self-confidence; their take charge attitude? Or was I simply looking for a successful man, many of whom are N’s? Or perhaps I had lessons to learn about boundaries that could only be learned from an N who recognizes no boundaries and bulldozes over you if you attempt to set boundaries.
Whatever the reason is for your unfortunate involvement with N’s, if you are still vulnerable to N’s or if you still have lessons to learn from N’s, you will find them popping up in your life until you’ve learned that particular lesson and learned it well. Once you have the lesson down pat, I suggest that you spot the Wild Narcissist early on and run hard and fast from their destructive, black hole orbit.
Caveat: some self-interest and self-importance is appropriate in the human species. Indeed, some mild level of narcissism may be a necessary prerequisite for survival, particularly in the day and age when men were chasing wooly mammoths ten times their size down with spears. One could see that a certain amount of arrogance and self importance would be useful in the hunter/gatherer time period of human development. It is only when ego moves from simple, justifiable self –confidence into overweening, non-empathetic self-importance that the word “narcissism” raises its ugly head.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."
Chinese Proverb

Fawning Over the N – a Required Activity
The Ns need fawning to live. Slavish adoration, also known as “narcissistic supply”, is as essential to the N as air is to you and me. Woe to the woman who fails to admire the N’s every action, fails to acclaim him the greatest and fails to be (or pretend to be) in constant awe of his alleged accomplishments. The N will be on you 24/7 arguing with you about how great he is until you “realize” (or simply agree in order to get the argument over) that he is the best at whatever the issue is and that no one else could possibly have done what he claims that he did.
Note the use of the word “claims.”
The N to whom I was married began an argument one day about how, in his opinion, his once a year “work” supervising our CPA’s preparation of our tax returns was the equivalent of my provision of all meals, buying groceries, doing the housework and handling all of the children’s’ functions for an entire year. I just laughed at him (always a mistake) and said, “Not even close.” He was outraged that I did not agree with him. I said, “If you think that’s equal to what I do all year, I’ll trade with you. You do what I do and I’ll do the tax returns.”
It will come as no surprise that he did not accept my offer to trade jobs.
As part and parcel of their need for awed admiration, the Ns cannot accept criticism. Even the merest whisper of a suggestion that they could possibly have made an error or a mistake brings rage. The Ns believe that they do not make mistakes. Period. All problems or errors are someone else’s fault. The Ns are big on blame for they never make errors or mistakes.
The suggestion that perhaps just possibly they were not the instrumental, critical person in the “deal”, project or case incites them to fury for of course they are the one and the only the only important person involved in the “deal.”
The N is Entitled for He is King
The N believes that he is the only important person on the planet. Thus, he is entitled to have his needs met immediately. You have no important needs. You, his servant, must drop what you are doing and “attend” to him when he wants something. You must do his bidding.
The N to whom I was married would go into a rage if I did not fix him the food that he wanted when he wanted it. The fact that the kids and I had eaten hours earlier, I had just gotten home from a meeting, it was nine o’clock at night and I was tired made no difference to him. In his view, the N was entitled to have me make him something to eat right then and there, when he demanded it. Woe to me if I did not perform!
The Ns Use of Others – the Stealth Method
The Ns use people, all people, including you, the purported love of his life. When he is done using you, he will treat you like dirt. Gratitude is not in his lexicon. Of course, he does not see you as a real person. You are just the method by which his needs are fulfilled and his narcissistic supply provided. Even if he understood the word “gratitude”, which he does not, he would not be grateful for in the N’s view, you were placed on Planet Earth for his sole benefit.
The Ns use the stealth method of getting people to do their bidding. By the stealth method, I mean that they start out by asking you for one thing, something that is not really a big deal. Of course, you say “yes” for what they asked you for was not much, not out of the realm of reasonableness. Then they ask you for another thing, and another, and another, each request greater than the last, until they are not even asking but demanding and assuming that you will of course do their latest, weirdest, most ridiculous request.
An example of a person who experienced this from the N to whom I was married is the case of a dear friend of mine. Friend helped the N to whom I was married manage the N’s small Phoenix office building during the period that the N lived in Hawaii. Friend is a highly talented interior designer turned real estate developer. He is a busy guy. Nonetheless, the N asked Friend first to check out the office regarding certain repairs and report in to him. Friend did this, for free of course. The next request was that Friend meet the repair guys and let them in. Friend did this. The “asks” escalated until one day Friend called me in frustration. The N had asked him to trim the trees in the office yard – in the middle of the Phoenix summer when the temperature was approaching 120 degrees. I asked Friend why he had agreed to do this as the N had a gardening company who came weekly and particularly considering that the N certainly had more than enough money to hire a tree trimming company. Friend did not really know how he got roped into this. It just sort of “happened”.
It happened by the stealth method. The N asked and asked, each request larger than the last and each request agreed to by Friend until the N assumed that Friend would do whatever the N wanted him to.
I advised Friend that he need not trim the N’s trees in the middle of the Phoenix summer but to expect serious flack if he refused. I told Friend that he needed to consider refusing to take anymore of the N’s telephone calls lest he get into a long, angry debate about Friend’s supposed obligation to trim the N’s trees. I forewarned Friend that Ns are always furious if their victims have the temerity to refuse to do their bidding.
After considering the matter, Friend called the N and left a message that Friend was unable to trim the trees and suggested that the N hire a tree trimming company. A barrage of telephone messages from the N followed, each more vehement, angry and nasty than the last. It was as if the N believed that he could scream Friend into doing his bidding.
Eventually, after Friend refused to return any of the N’s nasty telephone calls, the N gave up, as I knew he would. After all, the N’s preferred technique for getting people to do his bidding, screaming rage, was not working. Friend’s relationship with the N ended at that point. Friend had been used up by the N.
Evil Is a Lack of Empathy
In the movie Nuremburg, one of the characters concludes that the reason for the Holocaust was the Nazi’s absence of empathy for their victims. The character concluded that evil is a lack of empathy. I concur. I can certainly imagine an N presiding over a concentration camp for the Ns lack anything remotely resembling empathy. This is because other people are not actually human to the Ns but instead are simply tools placed on the earth for the N’s sole use. Further, the N’s have no ability to put themselves in other person’s place. The Ns, quite simply, cannot relate. The Ns do not know the meaning of the words “empathy” or “sympathy”.
So, if your dog or your mother dies, do not expect the N to understand, sympathize, or empathize with your pain. Such emotions are, quite simply, beyond them.
Remember as you read this that the Ns put on a “false front” at first, sometimes maintaining this façade for years. Thus, they may appear to be sympathetic or empathetic, if it is not inconvenient that they do so or if such faux empathy promotes their “cause” as the perfect man/husband/boyfriend. Such empathy is only superficial and will disappear like a puff of smoke when it is no longer convenient for them.
A good example of this is the fact that the N to whom I was married had a rather complete lack of understanding about how his actions could possibly affect me after I had separated from him and filed for divorce. He routinely called me appalling names in front of the Judge. He repeatedly sent me hate email in which he called me equally horrific names. He clearly did not understand that his name calling (not to mention his actions) might bother me and could possibly adversely impact our future (non-existent) “relationship”.
Before I blocked his emails, on two occasions immediately after a name-calling, threatening email, the N to whom I was married sent me an email lamenting our lost “love” and inviting me to go on an around the world cruise with him. Apparently it did not occur to the N that his previous hate-email might impact my desire to go on an around the world cruise with him. The fact that I had not spoken to him in years and would not give him my home address or home telephone number should have been a clue as well. Nonetheless, the N so lacked empathy that he apparently expected that I would jump with alacrity upon the opportunity to travel around the world with him. The Ns lack of empathy, coupled with their superiority complex, does not allow them to understand why a woman would not want to be any where near them ever again.
Arrogance Personified – The Ns Are Always Late
The Ns have no compunctions about being late, making you wait for them, canceling appointments at the last minute or not showing up when and where they are expected to be. As the most important person on the planet, they are entitled to do what they want when they want. If their desires are inconvenient for you or anyone else, oh well. The world revolves around them, after all.
The N to whom I was married was perpetually late, habitually cancelled appointments at the last minute and generally inconvenienced everyone around him. If we had friends over and he got tired, he would simply go upstairs and go to bed, without even a good-bye. The fact that our guests were inconvenienced (not to mention baffled) by this behavior was, quite simply, their problem.
The N to whom I was married lacked basic courtesy and all social graces. Apparently, he had been raised by wolves. He simply did not care about inconveniencing other people.
Now that I understand narcissism, I know that the Ns arrogance is simply part of their power and control trip. The world waits for them, not the other way around.
The Narcissistic Stare
The narcissistic stare has been experienced by many of us who have had the misfortune to associate with Ns. Presumably, not every N does The Stare but from all reports, a significant majority does. The N’s stare is piercing, unwavering, reptilian. Seemingly flattering, this stare is unnerving – and is meant to be unnerving. The Ns look right through you. A woman who is not familiar with Ns might think he is simply paying complete and rapt attention to her but he is not. The Ns are staring at you to see how vulnerable you are. Some believe that the Ns use their stare to look through you to your soul for the sole purpose of determining whether you are viable prey or not.
Once you are in a relationship with an N, they stare at you in order to control you. Their withering glare is meant to cow you into submission. It is a strong woman indeed who does not back down under the malevolent narcissistic stare.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience. Archibald MacLeish

Like bird watching, identifying the species “narcissist” is both a skill and an art. However, this is a skill that you must obtain lest you repeat the unpleasant experience of being involved with an N. Take a walk down the primrose path with me, your tour guide, and we will identify some of the salient characteristics of this dangerous species.
As you read the following, remember that not all Ns have all of these characteristics. Remember also that non-Ns, men who do not have personality disorders per se but are still dangerous and crazy, may have these characteristics.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), now in its fourth edition, is an American
handbook for mental health professionals that lists different categories of mental disorders and the criteria for diagnosing them.
The DSM-IV defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as follows:
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (
in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
(3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
(4) requires excessive admiration
(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
In “real life,” the actuality of these rather dispassionate, clinically described factors is, well, horrific.
You know that a man has a problem with grandiosity when they have never put a foot wrong, scored big on every deal (and with every woman), won every case and climbed every mountain. They are the best at everything. They are the sole reason for the success of every company and every project that they have been involved with, even when those projects and companies were clearly and obviously team efforts. Because the Ns believe that they are so superior, they believe that they are unappreciated and certainly under compensated.
Now, many Ns are indeed highly accomplished. Many are captains of industry or are at the top of their field. Think: Enron. The Ns are often very bright. After all, who else could pull off the façade of civility and normalcy which hides their craziness?
Nonetheless, if a guy persists in telling you how brilliant they are and/or how powerful they are, you’ve probably found an N.
The N to whom I was married claimed that he was the sole reason for the success of every law firm with whom he had been associated. He accomplished every deal, was the expert in everything that he touched and was the sole reason that his firm won a big case against a public utility. He was the best baseball player in his high school. He was the one whom, among his friends, “discovered” Eric Clapton. In short, he was “The Man.”
Ideal Love
To the N who wants to capture you, you are the woman they have always been looking for, the ideal love, the love of their life, their soul mate. You are perfect in every way, according to the N. At least early in the relationship you are perfect.
Later, not so much.
Watch out if his declaration of “soul mate” comes too early in the relationship. The discovery that another person is a “soul mate” takes a while generally. While certainly it is highly flattering that this seemingly fabulous man thinks that you are his soul mate, the fact is that rarely do soul mates discover, let alone declare, their affinity for you a week after meeting you.
The Ns always declare that you are their ideal love a bit too early in the game.
If your guy declares that you are perfect, watch out also. You are most likely not perfect. While you probably are fabulous, the declaration by someone who doesn’t know you well that you are perfect (and perfect for him) is a dead give away of narcissism.
“Well, aren’t you special?”
To paraphrase Dana Carvey, the Ns are “special”, or so they believe. The N believes that he is a misunderstood and underappreciated genius. Because he is so special, he is entitled to associate only with other high status people, including you. This is a backward and unfortunate compliment. You are, no doubt, high status in some way, if not in all ways. This is what makes him want to associate with you.
At first.
The same high status is assigned to his friends, if he has any. His friends are always the best at something, according to the N. Again, remember that sometimes this is true or very close to it. The N to whom I was married initially did have some wonderful, highly accomplished friends who were quite expert in their fields.
By virtue of the N’s specialness, he is entitled to only the best service and material goods. You will notice that he buys himself the best of everything. You and everyone else in his life are not accorded this same treatment unless it serves his ego to do so in order for him to look good.
For example, the N to whom I was married bought me not only jewelry (purchased at a discount from a jeweler whom he represented but nonetheless nice jewelry) but a mink coat. I have never wanted a mink coat. Indeed, I had never once considered owning a mink coat. Everyone who knows anything about me knows that I have never been remotely interested in owning an absurdly pretentious full length mink coat, particularly given that we lived in Phoenix where the ambient temperature is 115 degrees for most of the year. Yet, the N bought me a mink coat, told me that it cost five times what it actually cost (I found the receipt) and bragged both to his family and at our divorce trial about what a great guy he was for having bought a mink coat for me.

The mink coat was not about me or what I might want as a gift. It was all about him and what a fabulous husband he was to have bought me a mink.
All of the gifts from the N to whom I was married were similar. His gifts were all about him and had nothing to do with me.
He did the same thing to our children. He gave them odd, unusable gifts, stuff they could place on a shelf but could never play with, stuff that was either too advanced for them or too young for them. It was as if he did not know how old they were.
For example, one year he bought our 15 year old daughter a three foot tall, collectable stuffed bunny rabbit to add to the ten similar bunny rabbits that he had bought for her in previous years. She had a regular forest of standing bunny rabbits in her room. However, at age 15, she wanted cds and clothes.
She got a bunny rabbit.
Once again, his gift was not about what our child might want but rather was about what he wanted and what he wanted her to have.
Another example of his “specialness” was the bicycles we bought. I bought a $400 Trek 10 speed. Serviceable and adequate, my Trek was a reasonable choice for the type of bike riding that we planned to do, basically around Phoenix. The N, on the other hand, bought himself a $1,000 titanium silver then-top of the line bicycle which he never once rode. It was having the best that was important to him, not actual use. It was of critical importance to him that his bicycle was better than mine.
More characteristics of the Wild Narcissist will be discussed my next blog.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Controlling, Selfish Men; A Woman's Survival Guide

Should you shield the canyon from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their carvings. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Dear Readers,

This is a blog for women who have been in a relationship with a controlling, selfish man. Often, along with his insistence on controlling you and his complete self-absorption, comes verbal abuse, emotional abuse and perhaps even physical abuse of you, their significant other, whom they purport to love.
This blog is a survival guide for those who have been unfortunate enough to experience this sort of relationship. I write from experience for my now ex-husband exhibited these behaviors. We, you dear reader and I, share this experience along with many, many other women for controlling, selfish men are shockingly common. I am in the process of writing a book on how to survive these men so that you will know:
(a) it’s not you, it’s him;
(b) his problem has a name, is predictable and understandable;
(c) other women share your experiences;
(d) some of the survival techniques that I (and others) have learned.

You are not alone.

Read on if your ex or current guy exhibits some of the following behaviors:

He was initially charming, adoring and loving to you, claiming that you were his “soul mate”;

He flies into a rage so often that you walk on eggshells, even though his anger is usually over ridiculous things such as how thick you sliced the zucchini;

He insists on controlling where you go and what you do and often he calls you repeatedly and insists that you come home even though he knows where you are, what you are doing and when to expect you home;

He controls all of “your” (joint) money, is the sole arbiter of what you both can buy, examines even your grocery store receipts and criticizes how much you spent on food even though he spends multiple times that amount (over your objections and his agreement not to do so) on non-necessities;

He socially isolates you by criticizing your friends, finding fault with your family, refusing to let your family visit and refusing to let you visit your family (at least without a fight);

He relishes fighting, will fight with you for days on end until you give in due to simple exhaustion and even wakes you up in the middle of the night to continue the fight;

He is angrily jealous and insists that other men are hitting on you when they are clearly not;

He does not know and refuses to learn the word “compromise”;

He has no empathy for you or anyone else, and evidences a complete lack of sympathy and interest if your grandmother dies;

He is a pathological liar who lies even about unimportant things such as how old he was when he was graduated from high school;

He exaggerates his achievements and talents, believes he is superior to everyone else on the planet, claims that he is the best at whatever he does and single handedly won every case and completed every project;

He has an excessive need to be admired and goes into a rage when you do not praise him to the heavens for simple things such as supervising the accountant’s preparation of your tax return;

He has an unreasonable sense of entitlement and prides himself on never paying retail;

He assumes that you will obey his every command and is outraged if you do not;

He uses people, taking advantage of everyone (including you);

He refuses to play by any rules, commits minor acts of vandalism, ignores the rules of the road, is completely without any sort of manners and cancels appointments with both friends and professionals at the last minute without any concern for them;

He is completely arrogant and claims to be the best, the smartest, has the best taste, is the most successful, etc.;

He projects upon you his own mental health problems, such as claiming to anyone who will listen that you suffered a nervous breakdown when you left him;

He distorts your reality and claims that what happened did not happen and that he did not say what you heard him say;

He is a hypochondriac and uses his real or claimed health problems to control you and others;

He is addicted, whether to alcohol, illegal drugs, gambling, day trading, sex (not necessarily with you) or prescription drugs;

He is either overly sexual, relishing his conquests and expressing surprise that you might object to his affairs, or is completely uninterested in sex;

He verbally terrorizes you, emotionally traumatizes you, threatens physical abuse or physically abuses you.

I had never heard of the mental illness entitled “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” until after I was separated. When I learned about narcissism, I recognized immediately that my ex’s craziness had a name. This was the first step to understanding why he acts the way he does.
Understanding that he has a psychological disorder is extremely helpful.
Even if your current or former significant other has not been diagnosed with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, read on. There is very little difference between men who “merely” possess narcissistic traits, men who have a narcissistic “character”, men who have a narcissistic “overlay” on top of another mental health problem and men who have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The psychological diagnosis for your guy’s exact problem is irrelevant. The fact is that these men are self-centered, controlling and abusive.
Further, many, if not the majority, of men who suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder are undiagnosed. They have not sought psychiatric help for in their view (and their view alone) there is nothing wrong with them. It is the rest of the world, in their opinion, that is “wrong”. Only when these men are forced, usually by Court Order, to see a mental health professional do they obtain a diagnosis.
In the hopes of helping you, dear reader, avoid some of the craziness that I endured, I will share what I have learned both through my own experiences and the experiences of those who have shared their stories with me. I look forward to reading your postings about your experiences.
I will post chapters of the book that I am writing on this blog for you, dear reader, to read and comment on. Do let me know if any of this is helpful, useful, interesting or reassuring.
Two items of note. First, in this blog I will refer to narcissists of all sorts as “the Ns”, which is simply shorthand for all narcissists of any sort, type or variety, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed. Second, I will refer to my ex-husband as “the N to whom I was married” for I no longer wish to refer to him as “my” anything. He is no longer “mine” in any sense of the word. I prefer the distance created by referring to him as “the N to whom I was married.”
I hope that sharing my story will be of benefit to you. I look forward to hearing from you.
Pat Finley