Posted by: Judy | December 26, 2011

Follow up on last Wednesday…

My sister shared what she called the powder keg I inadvertently landed on. Apparently, our mother’s father had dropped ashes on their dining table. My mother carefully cleaned it up. Her father informed her (I suspect none too nicely) that if the table was too good for them, then he would make it so it wasn’t. He then proceeded to take a knife and gouge the table.

Learning this, I realized that the argument that happened last Wednesday wasn’t about me at all. It explained so many of her odd statements. I felt like she was talking to someone else because she seemed to be replying to things I never said. Not only was she not talking to me, she was in a completely different place and time.

Last week, Jonsi shared a post by Claire at her site Open Your Eyes and See that was incredibly timely. As I read, I realized I’d chosen to ignore one of the biggest rules of dealing with a narcissist: Do Not Engage!

The holidays are the most difficult time of year in dealing with narcissists, because engaging with others is considered part and parcel of the holiday season. It is also highly emotional, with love and good will an inevitable expectation from everyone. Narcissists know this, and expect it like everyone else.

As I choose to not engage, more and more, it seems that the few times I do engage becomes a confrontation, with expectations escalating. So I engage less, which creates an ugly spiral when those inevitable interactions do occur. I’m finding that not engaging is the most peaceful path.

I know that there are those who will criticize me for hurting the feelings of the narcissist. Yes, I have. But this is what those naysayers refuse to see: The narcissist will perceive a slight or a criticism where there is none. If I engage, then I will be criticized for the way I interact with them. If I do not engage, I am criticized for not interacting with them. The scapegoat is never allowed to escape unscathed, unless it’s to set them up for something worse.

Do I believe that my mother is aware of the argument she wasn’t having with me? No. It will be my fault. I will be blamed. But knowing the original powder keg helps me to understand what happened, and served as a reminder to not engage. Her image of her father as a loving parent, who only did things to her to protect her, is so important to her that she is willing to destroy all other relationships in order to keep that false image intact.

The first thing you have to do is stop lying, to everyone, especially to yourself.


  1. Glad I could help. I noticed the same thing this week. I thought by answering an email I could be polite without too much. I was wrong. Another email came back again asking me to make a choice over something I already answered. Her need for constant attention is so intense right now. Kind of sad actually.

    • Sorry you were caught in that.

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