10 comments on “Golden@2300

    • Thank you! It was definitely a very good test of my ability to stand my ground. A year ago I would have felt very differently and taken all he said to heart. A year ago I most likely would have apologized for hurting his feelings and would be looking for a new counselor. Now I’m much more confident in who I am and am able to stand up for what I believe is right.

      The whole conversation was so eerily similar to conversations I’ve had with my mother that it totally changed my perspective on my brother. Even though he claims that he “understands” that I had a different childhood than he did, he isn’t aware that he’s essentially a carbon copy of my NM emotionally. The fact that he waited and stewed on this for 6 months is EXACTLY the type of thing NM would do. There is a story that I hope to write about at some point regarding a Christmas incident where NM waited 4 weeks before she brought the issue up.

      My thought now is that I’m going to have to treat my brother very differently and not share info with him at all. We will have a very platonic relationship in the future.

      Stephen Bach

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  2. Stephen, I am so intrigued by projection since learning about NPD. So much pain is caused by it. Especially when it’s a NPD parent projecting onto their child.

    I feel like now whenever someone tells me what I “need” to do or not do or what I “should” do is really what *they* “need” to do or “should” do and they’re just projecting that onto me.

    The old me gobbled it up and always felt judged and terrible about myself, but I get it now. Not completely, but I’m getting there. (I still blame myself first a lot.)

    Do you think that’s the case? Do you think your brother was projecting?

  3. Hi BG!

    I definitely do hear you on projection being horribly damaging and confusing, especially when a child is the recipient of that projection.

    I’m thinking a post on projection, or at least my understanding of it, might be a good blog post.

    My understanding of projection is when a person takes their undesirable negative traits and assigns them to someone else and then treats the person that was assigned with the negative traits as if they truly possessed those traits.

    I agree there are a lot of confusing aspects to denial and projection. Projection can’t exist without denial. First a person has to deny that they have a negative trait in order to project it onto someone else. My cheating ex girlfriend had huge problems trusting me, and I believe that was because she couldn’t trust herself (she was cheating on me), and projected her inability to trust herself onto me so that I was the one that was untrustworthy. When she would get angry she would almost always project her anger onto me. I remember one morning after we had a rather ridiculous fight the night before. I had stayed at her house that night after our altercation since it was very late. I would leave for work much earlier in the morning than she did, so I woke up and tried to not disturb her as I prepared to leave. I gave her a kiss on the cheek when I left and wished her a good day. She was still bed. Two hours later I get a nasty text message from her accusing me of storming out of the house and ignoring her. She was projecting her anger at me onto me and then she rearranged her reality to fit with her projection. So if I was “storming out of the house” as she saw it, she could, in her mind, justifiably be angry at me for being so insensitive. Yes…. its’ all very confusing.

    Another slant on projection is that a narcissist, due to their lack of empathy, will think everyone thinks the same way they do. So this means that if the narcissist is angry with me and is acting cold to me, that I also must be angry with her and acting cold to her, even if that’s not the case. This is where trusting your gut comes into play. If my gut is telling me that I am not being cold and angry, but I am being accused of the same, then I know it’s time to take other measures. If I don’t trust my gut, I will find myself trying to rationalize whether or not I’m being cold and angry, and ultimately addressing what I’m told are my issues, even though I truthfully don’t have any. So if I do the right thing and trust my gut and tell the narcissist that I am not willing to continue the argument and that we can talk about it more once she has calmed down, I essentially fulfill the narcissist’s projection. Since I am walking away in order to have a more rational discussion in the future, I can easily be perceived as cold and angry, justifying the narcissist’s projections to the narcissist.

    In my brother’s case, I don’t necessarily feel it was projection. I think its more related to his heavy denial of our upbringing, and his need to make sure I stay in my role of scapegoat so that the historical family dynamic isn’t upset. In order for him to maintain golden child status, I need to stay the scapegoat. If I stop being the scapegoat and stop interacting with my mother and him, eventually he may well start seeing some scapegoating behaviors from my mother, so it’s in his best interest to keep me the scapegoat. I don’t believe he sees me as having the same negative issues that he has. It’s more that he needs me to continue to fulfill my role, and he is fulfilling his role by echoing NM’s belief that I am a failure to me in the absence of any relationship between NM and I.

    I hear you on “beating yourself up” when someone tells you that you should be doing things differently. One test of whether someones “loving criticisms” are truly just that or more manipulation is if I solicited the feedback from the person offering me the criticisms. If I didn’t ask for their opinion, then it’s well on it’s way to manipulation in my opinion. The best thing I have found is to either listen and tell them you will think about it, or if I really don’t want to hear it, immediately tell the person that I am not interested in their opinion.

    I actually bumped into my brother at a mutual friend’s birthday party last night. Perhaps a topic for another blog post.

    Hope all this helps.

    Stephen Bach

  4. “So if I do the right thing and trust my gut and tell the narcissist that I am not willing to continue the argument and that we can talk about it more once she has calmed down, I essentially fulfill the narcissist’s projection. Since I am walking away in order to have a more rational discussion in the future, I can easily be perceived as cold and angry, justifying the narcissist’s projections to the narcissist.”

    That’s really interesting. I describe my NM and other narcissists in my life by thinking of them as “dirty fighters.” They will do anything to “win.” But in reality, it’s not so much that they’re fighting “dirty” (altho they can and do), it’s more that I feel like I’ve got skin in the game. I want to “win” too. I want to show them that what they’re saying and doing to *me* isn’t fair, and can’t we all, like Rodney King said, get along? That’s not their point or their priority. But it’s mine. So, I have to accept that. Someone on another site said something like it’s a game of tug of war. “Winning” really means dropping our end of the rope and walking away — not so much worried about the “war” anymore. It’s a confidence thing on our part. Who cares if we fulfill the narcissist’s projection? We care only if we choose to.

    I hear you about your brother’s concerns and worries about everyone’s role in the family even if he’s not completely conscious of his worries and concerns, what they really are down deep. When we choose to change ourselves, we are really upsetting the apple cart. I’ve been going through the same thing with our family.

    Stephen, you’ve given me lots to think about. Thank you. And like we’ve both said, projection is a confusing thing. I’ll be back to this topic once I’ve thought on it a bit more.

  5. Hi BG!

    I think you have a pretty good handle on things at least from my perspective.

    It’s the truth teller side of me that makes me want to prove to an unreasonable person that they are being unreasonable, when the best thing to do would be to, as you say, drop the rope. What chance do I have of getting an unreasonable person to admit that they are unreasonable? I put it at about zero. It’s like asking your dog to drive you to work, it’s just not in their wheelhouse. A narcissist lacks the self awareness to ever gain the insight to reach a point of personal understanding where they might begin to realize how their behavior affects others. Unfortunately I’ve been wonderfully trained to play this unwinnable game by NM, and I have kept playing it even though I never win. It’s Charlie Brown trying to kick the football when Lucy always pulls it away. The second I think I have a handle on the situation, the game changes and I am flat on my back again, just like Charlie Brown. The best I can do for myself is let the difficult and unreasonable people in my life be difficult and unreasonable people all by themselves. Charlie Brown should just walk away from Lucy and refuse to play her game.

    So far, I haven’t heard from my brother since bumping into him late Saturday night at the birthday party for a mutual friend, and I’m OK with that.

    Stephen Bach

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