names have been changed or omitted in this post
some descriptions have been changed
As Bao's friend came speeding up on our left we glanced over… he was even with us now and with the windows down on his 1989 Toyota MR2 the wind ruffled his dark hair. He kept his vehicle steady on the road and laughed maniacally at us. Bao spoke and I could sense his discomfort at his friend's behavior… he knew he could behave erratically at times. "What is he doing?" He murmured under his breath but still loud enough for me to catch it.
His friend suddenly swerved his Toyota at us in the Supra like a weapon and Bao in understandable reaction swerved us to the right away from him. I gripped my hand rest, suddenly very uneasy at how things were unfolding… I didn't trust his friend to not continue to taunt us. And sure enough… I was right. He came at us again and Bao had to react by swerving away to avoid getting hit… his friend thoroughly enjoying our reactions… Bao's of irritation and mine of increasing concern almost panic wondering how this was going to end. Not good if it continued. Bao spoke "What is wrong with him? He's trying to wreck my car?" He mumbled. I grimaced. The car being damaged was the least of our worries in that moment.
Bao spoke again with low but distinct building anger. "I just want to get away from him." He told me and began to accelerate to out speed him. Instinctively I knew that wasn't the right tactic and would only serve to egg his friend on more. "No…" I told Bao and gently placed my hand on his right arm "Listen to me…" I spoke to him as we swerved yet again. "He expects you to try to outrace him. That's what he's wanting. That's what he's expecting. You never do what they expect. He wants you to wreck this thing. Just get us off this thing." I told him. I watched him carefully, his dark eyes piercing in thought as he studied the road and threw another look over at his friend. He nodded "You are right… " He acknowledged.
Dealing with a narcissistic sociopath is really not too different… we shouldn't react to their nonsensical crazy behavior as they expect us to. Most of them expect and yes, even desire for us to jump in the pig pen with them… roll in the mud, lash out and wail, yell, scream, cry etc over how they have behaved. Like the bully on the playground throwing dirt balls or the child poking you in the back in class they want to engage in any way they can with you even if that interaction is negative. In that behavior we also may expect or at least hope(!) that the narc will suddenly "see the light" and how "they've wronged us", offer a genuine apology and then ask how they can change or make amends. But if you've had any prolonged time with a narcissistic sociopath you already know that that scene I just described is nearly if not really laughable. A narc will never take responsibility for their poor behavior toward others.
The best way to handle a narcissistic sociopath is to go no contact. It's so vital and yet so misunderstood by many as to WHY we need to go no contact. It's not mean to go no contact. It's the smartest and healthiest thing someone can do. Going no contact is exactly what the narc doesn't want us to do… they hate it. They also don't expect it… they expect you to engage, to do battle with them, to fight, converse and become more and more frustrated to the point of complete and utter exasperation. They hope to drive you to the edge of insanity, push you off into the depths of suicide and then laugh and exclaim you have no one to blame but your "crazy" self. They are evil through and through and to give them the benefit of the doubt is comparable to playing Russian Roulette.
Admitting We Were Abused…
First we have to acknowledge that we are (or were) sharing life with an abuser. We have to admit to ourselves that this is reality and there is no "making it pretty" or "into something that it's not"… I was guilty of that in my marriage especially in the later years… I made it "pretty" for others (my family, social media, etc) and on some level protected him… and yet in that he also had me believing up to a point that the issues we had were my fault and my fault alone. I just had to do better, try more. I also at one point naively still had hope it would turn around. Then the ugly name calling began and the cheating was discovered which weren't able to be ignored or reasoned or justified… at which point I began seeing that there was much more going on than just differences in our character, priorities, how we parented, how we wanted to live, etc… after I sought individual counseling I realized I had been brainwashed, gas-lighted etc and he'd used stone-walling and projection among many of the other various toxic tactics narc's use to inflict their manipulation. Only once we are able or willing to admit that yes, we are or were with someone unhealthy can we begin acceptance and then begin processing our grief and most importantly recognize why we need to go no contact.
When It's Over…
It's like dealing with any toxic person… whether it's a parent, spouse, co-worker or ex… male or female… if they show you who they truly are… believe them the first time… don't go back expecting differently and certainly not better. When people reveal who they really are, when they are nasty, when everyone around you thinks someone is great but their own family doesn't have anything to do with them pay attention, when they repeatedly take pot shots at you, when they lie and cheat on you, when they don't treat you as you deserve to be treated… take mental notes and refer to them occasionally to stay reminded of their toxic ways… because they likely will not change and when we expect them to it unfortunately does nothing but cause us great disappointment, confusion and frustration. When we leave or get discarded by a narc it's like the equivalent of coming down off a drug that was legal but should have been illegal because come to find out they were poisoning us. If the relationship wasn't awful enough the breakup is even worse. A normal breakup this is not… this is like a bad, lengthy drama filled insane breakup that is multiplied by a million or more. It's dealing with restraining orders, stalking, break-in's, threats, tears, feelings of helplessness and despair, court trials, custody fights, verbal assaults, ugly confrontations in parking lots, harassing emails, texts and phone calls at all hours of the day and night… the list goes on. During my divorce my ex decided it would be fun to call my cell phone at one, two, three in the morning incessantly… he had his best friend at the time harass me via text, he stalked my friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc… it was always something. These are not a typical amicable parting of ways… these end up with you feeling like your life has been sucked into the Jerry Springer show. You've been brought up with class and so you just stand there staring blankly into space bewildered that this is now your life. You think to yourself how you didn't always have a life like that… you scratch your head confused… but no, it's reality and unfortunately you realize it's your reality. So instead of focusing on what we don't have… the best way to begin healing is to adapt by re-directing our thoughts… taking thoughts that are being fixated by us on our abuser and instead focusing them on ourselves… on building our NEW life. I'm a big believer in goals and projects… doing something to take our mind off what we believe we are lacking is essential… which may be a traditional family unit that we now mourn.
We Question Everything Now…
We will go through a time period where we question if we are narcissistic ourselves… we will question our worth, we will question our ability to love… because we've been chipped away at for so long that we've been systemically made to second guess everything about ourselves. We will look back and wonder what was real and what wasn't… we will remember he or she coming home while the children played and we folded piles of laundry, tired and dinner still not made… and we will remember how they looked us right in the eye and told us how busy they were that day at work… (you click your tongue later at that and call bull) when in reality they were screwing someone in their office, in a hotel room, at an apartment unbeknownst to you. Maybe they were traveling to Mexico on business and taking who they were screwing with them while you car pooled children, cleaned house, bought groceries and worried about anything and everything because that's what adults do… they are responsible unlike who you married. Ah, and then the self blame sets in and the beating up of oneself. But seriously just drop the bat and leave it be… it's not your fault… yes, we can learn from here and make better choices in the future but at the end of the day shame on the one who pretended to be someone they weren't. And that leads us to our inability to trust anyone. During and after my divorce I began the process of deleting nearly every Facebook friend I had. I shut people out because I didn't know if I could trust them… anyone and everyone was suspect minus a very small inner circle of my closet friends. But this is all very common for anyone who has endured narcissistic abuse. I can assure you that every target of a narc goes through a similar process in the aftermath of abuse and let me remind you that you are not alone, not to blame, that you are a person who is the epitome of empathy, kindness and love and you were targeted for those very wonderful qualities you posses.
Finding Eventual Closure…
We have to find closure on our own… we will never find the closure we need until after we cut contact with our abuser. By continuing to engage with our abuser we don't get the distance and objectivity needed to see how truly insane their ways are. When we were going through our divorce my ex kept harassing me for "family" dinners" which I refused to attend. We were no longer a family. He had made that choice when he cheated. He had made that choice when he called me ugly names. He had made that choice when he had alliance with his mother instead of me. He had made that choice when he chose materialism over what was truly important in life. He also didn't like being told no. And with that came worsening behavior by him. By continuing to engage with him for far too long I delayed my distancing and healing that could have begun sooner than it did. Today I'm here to gently let you know that you don't have to continue living like your wrists are tied by he or she and you have zero control… the truth is you are far more powerful than what you may realize. You are not being mean by going no contact. You can email or use a online tools like Talking Parents or the The Family Wizard to communicate about the children just fine. It doesn't require in person interaction or phone calls… it doesn't have to be a life of a tear soaked face behind a phone while you listen to he or she berate you… it doesn't require you being hung up on for the fourth time as you try to convey what your child needs… it doesn't require dealing with being harassed because they didn't "get their way". It can mean a life of peace, calm and healing. It can be yours. Take that first step today. Go no contact and in that wonderful silence revel in the sweet sound of peace. You more than deserve it.