I am in the middle of an exhausting parallel process.
In Second Life I have made a break from someone who behaves like a pathological narcissist.
I have done the same thing in physical reality.
Both of these women seek to manipulate the other people in my social network to shun me.
The one in Second Life has an easier go of it because it is so easy to lie online.
In life, the narcissist is trying to manipulate my therapist.
Her belief in her superiority to everyone places her at a disadvantage in dealing with a psychotherapist.
This is why a psychotherapist is so crucial to treating Dissociative Identity Disorder.
I wrote about the reason for the break a couple of weeks ago
I referred to her as ‘he’ because I felt a need to protect her.
This is what she wrote to my therapist:
“What did he (Rob) have to gain out of telling his partner not to find out what I needed? His partner told me in frightened tones that Rob told him not to answer the door. That does violence to me and my emotional well-being. He (Rob) does this on purpose. I’m not going to let him (Rob) make me feel like a battered wife anymore. He might want to decide if he is going to treat me with respect. I believe that is what he means by boundaries. His partner is frightened of him. I think I may not hear from you (my therapist). That is Rob’s trump card. Fine. Be aware that he is good at manipulating people.”
The reference to being like a battered wife is the ‘trump card’ of the female narcissist.
I watched my Mother play that card with my Father.
What my former friend doesn’t know is that my partner and I have weekly couples sessions with my therapist.
These couples sessions are crucial to people with DID and their spouses.
The stress of being in a relationship with someone who has DID often precipitates a divorce.
My therapist met with my partner alone to get his side of the story.
This is her reply to my friend:
“You either distort the truth or purposely lie about things. For example, his partner reported to me that you opened the door the day you forgot your phone in their home. You said he opened the door. You characterized his partner as talking to you in frightened tones. On the contrary, Rob’s partner was shocked that you opened the door. I realize that dealing with this illness is confusing, however I know that in the past both myself and Rob have talked to you about this. Yet you persist in behavior that is damaging to Rob’s well-being. Rob has shared with you the things that are likely to trigger him. You either ignore them or purposely engage in the very behaviors that are likely to trigger and to upset him. This is dangerous to Rob’s mental health. At this point, it is safer for everyone if you and Rob stay away from each other. Part of that will mean that communication will sometimes have to go through me.”
A healthy person might slink off in shame, but not a pathological narcissist. Here is her reply to my therapist:
“That isn’t really what I said. If you are going to rewrite the meaning out of it, you are acting as a conduit.”
It’s as if she thinks that her earlier email and everything she wrote in it has evaporated from the server.
The same thing is happening on Flickr with a former friend who is also a member of Second Life.
I knew that she had launched a smear campaign on Flickr when I noticed that mutual contacts stopped their regular visits to my stream.
I began to get odd email from people praising her work; I suppose to see what I might say. Next I got this email from a friend.
I’m using quotes from the email because I know that using third parties is the strategy of a narcissist. The one good thing that may come of this is that someone else involved with one of these characters may have a flash of recognition.
I got an email from x. She said to me that you had kicked her out of your workshop in SL!
It would be all right if she kept the drama to herself…but she has spread it all over Flickr. Here’s the deal…I have this thing called DID. I’m in treatment. When I get confused or feel I’m becoming unreasonable I take a break. This is exactly what I told her. I told her, I feel confused and unable to reply to her email appropriately, I need to take a break. Her reply was to pack her digital bags and leave the workshop to start the drama you describe…”
The way virtual land works in SL, one creates a group for people to have access to it and deed the land to the group. Kicking someone off the land means removing them from the group.
She is still in the group and can use the workshop when she pleases.
The next email was more interesting.
Triangulation is a classic sign a pathological narcissist is in your life.
This is what our friend said:
“Good Morning. I just had a mail saying you ejected one of her photos from your Flickr photo group.”
This is a summarized version of my reply:
“X is triangulating you as a way to get my attention. I don’t recall removing her picture from my group but hell…I remove my own pictures from that group. If I did remove one of her pictures it was probably one that she knew I would remove. My criteria for removing a Second Life image is this: If it looks like a sex doll or an ad it’s out. That’s all. For my part, the only unforgivable thing a person can do to me is to lie to me and about me. I’ve cut people from my life for this, I’m certainly not going to tolerate it from someone I’ve never physically met. X is now another nail in the coffin of what little respect I had for the members of SL. Or at least the ones I’ve met, and that’s quite a few since 2009. I get on fine without them.”
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the break with the online narcissist is that she behaves in ways that might lead other Flickr members to think she is one of my alternates.
My therapist first noticed this.
My former SL friend invites every picture I post into every Flickr group she moderates regardless of the theme.
She ignores repeated requests that she stop doing this and she still does it.
Creating multiple accounts to promote your own work is the kind of thing that members of gaming communities do on Flickr. It’s obvious to the more professional members of Flickr and is a great way to lose their respect.
The worst thing you can do to a pathological narcissist is say ‘no’. No means a boundary and boundaries don’t apply to them.
In 1979 Christopher Lasch, at the University of Rochester, published ‘The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in An Age of Diminishing Expectations’ (Norton, 1979).
Lash describes the cultural narcissist as, ‘A chaotic and impulse-ridden character who lacks the capacity to mourn…lives an almost parasitic existence…[and is unable] to enjoy life in a process of a growing identification with other people’s happiness and achievements.’ (p. 37-41).
Healthy Narcissism or healthy self-regard is based on self-awareness.
In particular, respect for the rights and boundaries of other people.
A person with a healthy sense of self-worth seeks reciprocal relationships based on empathy and a sense of the self as worthy of love.
In 1975 Dr. Otto Kernberg published Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism.
In Kernberg’s view one manifestation of Narcissistic aggression is chronic intense envy which causes the narcissist to want to spoil, steal or destroy the good things created by or enjoyed by others.
My friendships with these two women is a direct link to my Narcissistic Mother.
Each of them chosen by me to play the role of my Mother in my life.
This is the replication compulsion that scars the lives of adult survivors of childhood abuse.
“…the repetition compulsion describes a pattern in which survivors seek out abusive people. They recreate the trauma to “fix” the primary relationship. But any relationship with someone who resembles the abusive parent ends in failure. The survivor is trapped in a cycle of abusive relationships, with people who are disrespectful and psychologically abusive.”
paraphrased from How Childhood Abuse Can Manifest in Adult Relationships
The good news in all of this is that I am holding my boundaries, but the price is exhaustion mixed with grief and remorse. I’ve made this Hell.
The most painful part is that I know that removing these two narcissists from my life is no guarantee that I won’t replace them with two more.