Sunday, April 12, 2009

Living With Narcissism

Narziß Artist Francois Lemoyne 1728

Do you know a narcissist? Do you live with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder? If the answer is no, consider yourself blessed. If you're not sure what NPD looks like, this is the best resource I've ever read concerning this problem. I'm convinced that this is the underlying toxic stew that drives Mr. Larger Than Life. Of course, the overlying problem these days is his head injury and this makes him nearly impossible to deal with for more than a few moments at a time. Pre-injury behaviors (what we call premorbid behaviors) are often heightened after head injuries-making pre-injury days look like a walk in the park. Put him and Rachel together in the room and an accidental alcohol OD starts to look pretty good. Today was no different. Rachel wanted to watch cartoons, and MLTL wanted to watch sports on TV. There is one TV in this house. Guess who won?

This man wasn't in the door 2 seconds before he began to tell me how to put the 4 day old vegetables and spinach dip he bought into serving dishes. I don't know what possessed him to buy the vegetables 4 days ago, or what made him buy marinated vegetables to serve with a dip. He doesn't really think right. The dips, made of dairy products, were on the warm side, making me think they were out on the counter for hours before he came over. He also brought some kibbee which he'd had the restaurant make in a manner I've never witnessed in my 52 years of eating Arabic food. It was mixed with all kinds of vegetables and stunk to high heaven. I didn't even want to put it on the table. However, he had to be told a dozen times how wonderful it was. It isn't enough that he brought this dicey food, he NEEDS to be told countless times how wonderful it all is. I've never met anyone so insecure.

My husband, trying to clean out our garage and make it a safer household for four cognitively impaired women, put some paint cans in my father in law's garage until he could deal with disposing of them correctly. Since that day, MLTL has griped about them every 15 minutes. They don't belong in his garage, and even though they aren't in his way, he is not about to let them stay there for a minute longer than necessary. Today was no different. On several occasions throughout the afternoon, he mentioned the paint cans. He is incapable of seeing how busy we've been with this move or how we're trying to float these 2 homes right now. He only cares about the space 6 cans are taking up in his 3 car garage. Argh. It's so frustrating trying to please someone who can't be pleased. As of now, I've given up trying.

Years ago, about a year or two after we got married, I made a mild joke about the men in that family being babies. Oh my God, you'd have thought I'd called him an axe murderer. He went on and on for about an hour about this benign little comment. I was chastised up and down for that little slip of the tongue and never repeated my faux pas. It had become clear that MLTL had no sense of humor. None. In the 24 years I've known my husband, I've never once seen or heard his father laugh. It's sad really, but that's the way it is.

Experts suspect NPD has roots in childhood and people with this type of personality disorder may have been abused or neglected. From what I know of his early childhood history, this is true for him, but he doesn't perceive or recognize the abuse. In his perfect world, his deceased parents have been elevated to sainthood. I find it interesting, but only from a distance. If confinement for anything more than a few hours occurs, I find myself overwhelmed. I can only please so many people at one time and Lord knows, there's a limit to how much wine I can consume.

Other than that, dinner was great. Here's hoping you had less eventful holiday meals. Next year, I'm making reservations.


Miss 376 said...

As soon as I saw the title, I knew what it was going to be about. I hope today will be more peaceful so you can recover

WT said...

Hahaha! He's not a narcissist, he's an asshole.

Oh and yes, I do live with a narcissist, well technically my wife does, but let's not split hairs.

Brenda said...

Ha...Well I could relate to most of this in one form or another. I have wondered about the narcissist thing and will look into it. There are lots of folks that fit that description that I have know in my lifetime. The paint can problem I am still dealing with but they are in our garage. Doesn't that Florida vacation you talked about several months ago sound great right about now? I could use one. Venting helps!

Renie Burghardt said...

I'd be overwhelmed, too, Rudee. My son took me and some friends out to Easter dinner, so I didn't have to deal with relatives, just handsome waiters, and that part was a perk!

debra said...

We all have people like that in our lives one way or another, I think. They're a hard lot to deal with.

We went over the stream and through the woods to my in-laws. I always bring what we want to eat so I know how it's prepared. #1 daughter called from NYC----the 1st time she's not been home for the holiday.

Rudee said...

Miss, it's back to work today.

WT, he can be both.

Brenda-I bet there are some cheap flights to Florida right now.

Renie- next year, it's Easter Brunch and I'm not cooking.

Debra-it's hard not to have our kids around on the holidays, isn't it?

Betty Flocken said...

Darn Rudee, sounds like a perfectly awful person. Sorry you have to put up with him - Especially on Easter. Otherwise, I hope your Easter was a good one

the rotten correspondent said...

Boy. He sounds like a real treat.

The Crusty Crone said...

oh I know what you mean about folks who are never satisfied or are always pissed about something. Bummer.

Gail said...

It must have been in the air. My youngest daughter walked in with her significant other and their child and you could cut the air with a knife. We had all been laughing and the joy in the room just sucked right out.

We survived and so we will again and again!

Wish you day had been better.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Lisa L said...

I've never once seen or heard his father laugh

The above astounded me. I am so sorry you've had to live with this man for so many years.

distracted by shiny objects said...

Awwwwh, I'm sorry for you, Rudee. I've read that site that you mentioned a few times--thought it fit my sister-in-law exactly. I don't know quite what the problem is with her except she just ain't right. She has decided that I am persona non grata and tries to punish us with that, but that's totally okay with us. Probably not much of an option for you. Have you ever tried the trick of mentally going through the grocery store and putting items in your cart alphabetically?? apples, bananas, cherries, doughnuts, etc...makes you look like you're listening to a conversation but allows you to be a bit removed. I've found it helpful a time or two.

Rudee said...

First let me say, every time I read WT's response, I laugh. He can't possibly be a narcissist because if he was, he wouldn't admit it.

Betty, I put up with him on every holiday. I did give up elective dining out with him because he always orders the while fried fish and makes a pig of himself. He knows I find that gross, so he does it. In return, I don't go out to restaurants with him.

RC-you don't know the half of it.

CC- negative people bring me way down...

Gail-today was a better day.

Lisa-my hand to God-never. My son says he has seen him laugh, but I never have.

Distracted, I'll try the grocery shopping next time.

Kathleen said...

Good lord, Rudee, I'd be a puddle in my bedroom 5 minutes into the event. I love distracted's alphabet tactic. Must try that, too. If it's possibe, I've worked with a benign narcissist. That's weird, cuz it throws you off and you think you're the crazy one.
We've got a few in the family, too, but we're mostly able to keep our distance. You get the medal for the toughest family gathering over Easter!

SkippyMom said...

When I read the title to this post my first thought was "Why the heck is Rudee in SC taking care of my mother and she didn't tell me?"

Then I realized [besides the fact I don't know you] that...oh, gracious I am not the only one to be blessed with an NPD relative.

He sounds like a treat-your archives should make for some fun reading. And the paint can thing? phewwww!