“Narcissists do know wrong from right. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t hide their unfair actions like they frequently do… they will attempt to hide [or excuse] the fact that they’ve done it. This is because they do know it’s wrong, and they don’t want to lose the admiration and respect of others who will think less of them for having done so.
“So… [narcissists] do what they know is wrong… Then, because they are aware that what they did is wrong and that people will think less of them for it, they cover it up so they won’t have to pay the consequences. (Narcissists don’t like consequences. Those are for little people.)
“…because they are aware it’s wrong and that it makes them wrong, they cover it up and (perhaps sometimes unconsciously) deny it, gaslighting and projecting their way out of responsibility so that nobody, including themselves, will see them as imperfect for having done it. (And if you see them as imperfect, then you’re a serious problem, because as long as you’re there to remind them they’re not perfect, they’ll have to think about the concept, and they just plain won’t.)
“They know what wrong is, and they may do it, but they cannot accept the concept of being a person who does anything wrong, because that means they’re not superior and perfect. So narcissists vehemently push away the information that they’ve done something hurtful. They do know what a hurtful act is, and yet they have to deny that they did it.
“Narcissists use a number of different ways to deny their hurtful actions (and to try making you deny it along with them so you’ll stop complaining). Blaming others, gaslighting, labeling someone who complains about them cruel, lying, making excuses, and playing the martyr are a narcissist’s typical responses. Whatever it takes to stop all recognition (by them and you) of the fact that they were inconsiderate can be expected.
“So yes, narcissists are aware that they’ve hurt your feelings and that it’s wrong, but they just cannot accept that knowledge. They deny it to prevent narcissistic injury, and desperately want you to deny it as well. And usually, they deny it so quickly and so habitually that it doesn’t even register in their consciousness before the excuses and protests are given out.
“Typically, when told they’ve hurt your feelings, a narcissist’s denial takes the forms of insisting you’re not hurt, or that you shouldn’t be hurt, that you’re wrong to be hurt, that they didn’t hurt you, that you’re too easily hurt, and that you shouldn’t complain because they’re hurt worse.”
Guess what. I still got hurt.
Regardless of what everyone in my “family” would like to pretend, the fact is, at a time of my obvious vulnerability and grief, Susan was deliberately rude to me and hurt me. And Joe helped her do everything in bold above, afterwards. Neither has ever acknowledged this, nor apologized for their actions.
It’s crystal clear what the problem is and who it is. This dysfunctional pattern is well-known and documented and factual. Anyone who can read my story and possesses a shred of honesty ought to be able to see this is true. And not just through my words, but also the blogs, books, and articles I cite, and the countless others that exist.
But although I’ve asked time and again for this “family” to do the right thing, the healthy thing, and step up and defend me against this dysfunctional bullshit — they have not. They will not. Because it’s also the hard thing.
So I’ve left. My sister and Susan are both much happier to have me gone, because now they don’t have to be reminded of what I stand for. Everyone else is OK with it, because it means not dealing with the fits that would be thrown if Joe and Susan were forced to be responsible for their actions.
In Susan’s case, what I stand for is of course the fact of her bad behavior and imperfection. Though it has been vehemently denied and covered up and the blame has been shifted, I still dared to expose her true nature, and I will never, ever be allowed to get away with that.
In my sister’s case, the waters are murkier. I stand for something in her mind — I’m not sure exactly what — but it revolves around our parents.
The simplest explanation may be that I stand for the same thing as regards our mother, as I do for Susan — the fact of her imperfection and failings — and my sister is so enmeshed with our mother that she is forever bound to defend her (and for that matter, Susan).
(She’s passed that idea on, too. I’ll never forget the email exchange I had with one of her daughters, my niece, after I sent my email saying I wasn’t ever coming to the reunions again. My niece said her first impulse was to “defend her mother”. After a week or so of puzzling over it I wrote back and asked her, “defend your mother against what?” She didn’t really have an answer, other than that it was a knee-jerk reaction, and she didn’t want to talk about it any more.)
I’m honestly happier to be gone too, for the most part. But I’d be lying if I said the whole thing didn’t still rankle and sometimes, hurt.
It seems so unfair for them to all get exactly what they want out of the situation, while I’m the one who has to make the hard choice, to give up and leave, to miss out on having a family, to forever break off all contact with some people I care about in order to save myself from the ones who don’t care about me.
There are some people I would love to be in touch with, to see occasionally, some great-nieces and nephews I’ll never know. I’m forced to miss out on all that, because to do that would inevitably mean hearing about and seeing and interacting with a handful who continually reject me, ignore me, attack me, hate me.
(Also, my sister and Susan are the two who are in charge of the “family” and my sister, at least, definitely dictates to those under her aegis where they can go and who they can call. If it got out that one of my nieces or nephews emailed me, for example, I can imagine what a fit my sister would throw and she’d probably insist on reading the exchange, as she’s done before. Her kids are hovering around 30YO, by the way. It ought to be their choice whether they want to be in contact with me or not. Can you say, lack of appropriate boundaries?)
Life isn’t fair, of course, but for a long, long time I really thought my “family” was better than this.
I can take some comfort in the fact that I have the strength and the knowledge and the guts to do what I needed to do, but I should never have had to do it in the first place, and I shouldn’t have to miss out on the ones that I love, and who, I assume, used to love me. Probably that’s been tainted by now, but what used to be is still something I’ve lost.
Me paying the price for the actions of the fucked-up ones, and giving up my family — knowing that she thinks she’s won — and that she basically has won, if the “family” is the prize — is really, really hard.
My dad liked Bobby Bare and this is the version of the song I remember. It was played on road trips and in our kitchen. We sang along, and I still know all the words by heart, from sheer repetition. Maybe my dad found in this song what I am seeing in it today – that there are worse things than “losing”, if what you “win” isn’t worth having.
And each morning when I wake and touch this scar across my face
It reminds me of all I got by bein’ a winner.
But that woman she gets uglier and she gets meaner every day
But I got her boy, that’s what makes me a winner.
And if there’s somethin’ that you gotta gain or prove by winnin’ some silly fight
Well okay, I quit, I lose, you’re the winner.
But my eyes still see and my nose still works and my teeth’re still in my mouth
And you know I guess that makes me the winner…