Each of our realities is relative based on our personal experiences and memories. You are entirely entitled to your interpretation of that reality, and you alone are best equipped to talk about it. The narcissistic personality alters your reality by making you doubt yourself, denying what they said or did, remembering false stories, and invalidating your opinion and memories. It distorts your truth to the point where you don’t know what’s real or not, and you eventually bend to their perception of reality. It breeds self-doubt and can even make you feel as if you’re taking crazy pills. Your abuser assures you that they are right and you are wrong.
Altered reality was a common tactic my Narc used. He consistently claimed that I must have misunderstood an agreement or conversation, twisting it to his advantage. This presented numerous challenges, especially when co-parenting. Rarely, if ever, were we on the same page. For example, we would agree on a punishment when one of the kids stepped out of line. But, when it suited him, the rules would change. He would claim that was never our agreement. I must have misinterpreted our conversation, or “I never said that.” Often this made me the “bad cop, the rule enforcer.”
Did you Narc ever claim you were crazy? Mine did as well as claiming I was an unstable and an unfit parent, especially during our divorce. Or, did your Narc every claim that you exaggerate everything — blow everything out of porportion? My Narc went so far as to demand a psychiatric evaluation. The judge granted his request and ordered us to both undergo a very intracate and lengthy evaluation. Boy did his demand backfire!
Later, after our divorce, children’s expenses were of significant discord, often having to be taken before the judge in dispute. More times than I can count, my ex would say he would split the cost of major items (not identified in the Judgement for Divorce). Only later to claim that he made no such agreement. I would then have to spend hours going back through correspondences to prove him wrong. I full-heartedly believe he did this to drive me crazy — always causing me to spin my wheels.
The Narcissist will take a minuscule of truth and change their recollection of events so drastically one often wonders what planet they are from! When I would question my Narc’s story, based on my reality of events, he would then slowly and calculating chip away my reality so convincingly I wondered, “Did that really happen?” Of course I would always be the one to end up apologizing, even if I wasn’t to blame. Then later he would share those tall tales to anyone who would listen as a smear tactic.
One specific event happened during my marriage that comes to mind. It’s not an easy share, but a perfect example on how one’s reality can be so altered/distorted. The way he tells it, in his reality, I hit him with our car.
One night, he was driving us home and we were fighting because he was drunk — really drunk. I wasn’t. I was beyond concerned. If he got pulled over while under the influence, he would lose his job because it was a company car. Drinking/driving was a common theme and reoccuring argument. He always had to have control. However, that night the fight got so bad he pulled over on the highway exit ramp, jumped out of the car and attempted to walk home.
Picture this . . . late night, foreign country, (ex)husband can barely walk stumbling drunk on a busy highway exit ramp. So, I moved into the drivers seat and began to follow him driving slowly around the curve with the windows rolled down begging him to get back in the car. Then, by happenstance, one of his employees – yes employee, happens to be driving by and asks if everything is ok? Ugh. “Yes, Yes, just some fresh air….” Right! I’m praying no other employees or heaven forbid, ‘policia’ lay witness to the events unfolding. Then, to my utter dismay, my (ex)husband literally stumbles – bumping into the car. He doesn’t fall, but proceeds to blow up in pure rage while screaming, insisting that I had hit him on purpose! He then jumps into the passenger seat of the car and begins pummeling me with his fist repeatedly!
The next day he berates me. Says he can’t believe I purposely hit him with the car! Mind you, he had no injuries, no bruises. (If I had intentionally hit him on purpose, I would have done a much better job!) So there I was apologizing and swearing it was an accident, even though I didn’t do what he claimed! I was just trying to get him (us) home safely. He conveniently overlooked the fact that he had purposely jumped in the car and began beating the hell out of me leaving me with bruises that were already forming that morning on my arms, shoulder and chest. No apology. No remorse. According to him – I deserved it!
My advice when trying to prove a point with a true Narcissist – don’t bother. You won’t win! First, they are never wrong and will never take accountability for their actions. Second, they will project back in defense. Projection/Gaslighting are the Narcissists’ greatest talents. That is why it is so vital to DOCUMENT EVERYTHING IN WRITING/video when dealing with a Narcissist! Get a journal and/or record everything! It saved my a** more than once!!!!
A person can spend countless hours researching, reading and trying to comprehend what makes a Narcissist tick and how to deal with the various emotional manipulative tactics they use. People often ask me, how do you deal with a Narcissist? In this blog, I summed up 17 tactics I resonated with and provided examples along with my two cents. But in reality, you only need remember two words — DON’T ENGAGE. It’s that simple. However, harder said than done, especially when children factor into the equation. Or, in circumstances like the car example above; I could have driven off and left his drunk ass to stumble home. But that wasn’t the right thing to do, for his safety or for our family.
I struggle to this day not to engage. One has to choose to jump off that crazy wheel of altered reality and go with your gut. You know what is real in both your mind and heart. Stay strong!
DON’T ENGAGE, DON’T ENGAGE, DON’T ENGAGE!