Laura, thank you again for putting your finger directly on an important issue. I like so many followed the twists and turns that you published from the Bridges episodes.
From my own studies and work I've begun to understand a little about how these individuals think and operate, and in my life have encountered people like this many times. In my family now this very dynamic is coming up again coincidently, and we are all having to deal with the familiar ( no pun intended ) deceits and subterfuge. The difference this time is that everyone whom this person is trying to manipulate is not going to allow it to happen again. We know the patterns and have seen that there are no limits to the deceit, so all are keeping their guard up.
There is a long list of writings that speaks to this type of STS view, including People of the Lie and many books that preceded and followed it. The book you have recommended, The Sociopath Next Door, was also helpful in coming to understand this behavior. So thank you again.
Yes, a lot of people went through that ordeal with me once I decided that I just wasn't going to suffer in silence and shut up and be a good victim. It's kinda funny, looking back now, how much we all learned from Vincent Bridges; and I'm sure that he didn't intend it the way it turned out.
Most of us have a narcissist-lite or two in the family, some have the full-blown variety, but until this drama played out, I don't think that many of us had a clue about what we were dealing with. There's just nothing like seeing it up close and personal.
There was a lot of pain and suffering for a lot of people for awhile, but even that was a good thing. After awhile, when you have to face reality day after day, have to face the fact that not everyone is a good person who intends to do good and tries to do good, that evil exists and it manifests most often in our world via pathological deviants, that they cannot be fixed, well, you become "inoculated" and gain a different perspective. Not only that, but you realize that none of the rules of human interactions you always believed in even apply. You don't forgive them, you don't forget, and that's not a bad thing.
It's like the post that purplehaze made
on another thread, quoting a blogpost by Anna Valerious:
A Force of Nature
by Anna Valerious
If you've withheld forgiveness from the narcissists in your life then I am sure you have experienced some particular accusations. These come from the narcissist and their sympathizers. They accuse you of "refusing to forget the past", "holding a grudge", "being resentful", "not letting go".
Boy, do I ever know that one! According to the Bridges gang, it's all my fault because I can't forgive and forget and let bygones be bygones and remove that pesky series of reports about Vinnie from the web! What an evil, unforgiving, un-spiritual, vicious, vindictive person I am (according to them, forgetting that they are the ones that started the whole thing, carried it on for months before I decided that I was not going to be a victim).
One of my and my family's favs is "a heart full of hate". We erupt in gales of laughter when we conjure up that particular memory of my father's accusation in defense of my mother.
Narcissists have a very limited range of emotions. While being able to fake having a wider range of emotions, they really operate on an emotional level of an animal with the two primary motivating emotions of fear and anger (jealousy is a close third, but is really a combination of the other two). This is one reason they impute one of these two emotions to you when you are not behaving properly. They project their own emotional state or reactions to you. Which is why, when you calmly and firmly withhold absolution for their misdeeds, they immediately assume a negative.
Is it true? Is it inevitable that your decision to wait for someone to show true signs of confession, contrition, restitution and a firm resolve to not repeat the offense can only mean that you are a resentful, grudge-filled, vengeful, nasty person? Is it possible to withhold a gift of forgiveness while simultaneously living your own life with productiveness, happiness, and a clear conscience without bitterness?
You bet it is! I was actually cracking up when I was reading Andy Rowland's rant about how I must be "seething" (See this thread: http://www.cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php?topic=7398&p=1
) As I wrote in a post in that thread:
"Well, there ARE some things that can make me seethe, but among them are not situations where people who are pathologically disturbed can't discern reality from their own wild and sick imaginings and produce truly bizarre and crazy theories about what I have or have not done or why.
"I know that Andy can't understand it but I just didn't manage to seethe, nor did I even take offense at his behavior. Thankfully, I long ago got over being disturbed by such behavior because I took the time to do the research and to learn that people such as he is cannot help seeing the world through so distorted a lens - it's part of what Lobaczewski calls the "instinctive substratum". Not only can he not help it, he cannot even see that his reality is distorted. "
Indeed, the assumption of the narcissists, sympathizers and Holy Joes is that you can't be a spiritual person with a clean conscience and a focus on the good things in life while withholding forgiveness. They are screwed up in the head so you can put their opinion on this in the trash.
Exactly. They think it is "withholding forgiveness." It isn't. There's really nothing to forgive. If a tornado destroys your house, do you feel that you need to forgive it? Of course not! It does what it does because it is what it is and you are there. Well, of course, pathologicals are more directed, more conscious than a tornado, but not much. They DO seek to prey on targeted individuals, but who knows if what makes a person a target is not similar to what attracts a tornado?
Lets look at it from healthy person's perspective.
Emotionally healthy people are realists. They are people who want to see reality, accept reality and live in reality. The realist has seen that the narcissist is not wanting a real gift of forgiveness, therefore the realist has accepted that truth and proceeded to live their life based on that truth. The realist doesn't have to be upset or angry about this reality because it never does any good to get pissed and stay pissed at reality for any length of time. Reality is. If you refuse to accept what is, you end up fighting truth.
Those are some powerful words put together there!
Not a good situation since, in the end, truth wins. The person I'm describing is able to depersonalize the behaviors and accusations of the narcissist because they've come to understand that the narcissist is not truth-based. Because an emotionally healthy person is only interested in truth-based reality, they don't take a lying narcissist at their word. When the narcissist starts hurling accusations the realist doesn't take them to heart once they've figured out that the narcissist is an inveterate liar.
In fact, this person is able to completely depersonalize the narcissist too. The realist thinks of the narcissist as a Force of Nature. Realists do not get angry at a force of nature. It would be senseless to do so. The force of nature is just what it is and it can't help what it is. It does what it does, wreaks its destruction, and moves on. The energy and effort of the realist is used to stay out of the way of the force of nature until it passes. When the hurricane threatens, the wise realist does all they can to protect them self and their family from the coming storm. They hammer boards over the windows and hunker down in the relative safety of their basement. When the hurricane comes knocking you don't run up and open the door to it. You don't invite the hurricane to dinner. You don't throw your kids out on the front porch to appease the hurricane in order to save yourself. Or, like the natives of certain tribes, throw your virgins into the volcano to stave off its rage and rampage. No, you simply do all you can to protect yourself and stay out of the path of a force of nature. Where is the resentment? Where is the grudge-holding? It doesn't even apply. You have simply come to recognize the truth about the narcissist; they are destructive forces and unsafe for humans. You do not try to reason with a force of nature. You don't try to placate it. You don't waste time hoping the force of nature will grow a heart. You get out of its way and stay out of its way. That is all you can do.
Amen and hallelujah, sister! Reading something like that makes me feel downright sanctified! But only with experience, research and knowledge does one arrive at this place.
In one significant way the narcissist differs from a tornado, hurricane, tidal wave, volcano, etc...a force of nature is not predatory. The narcissist is. And, unlike most predators in nature, narcissists are predators of their own kind making them a wholly unnatural creature. This reality only underlines the need to get out of the way of the narcissist's storm.
Here, I would like to make just one little adjustment: I really wonder if Narcissists - the real ones which I consider to be on the spectrum of psychopathy - are truly human? Sure, they look like us - have human bodies, but what if they are not really human at all? In such a case, the narcissist/psychopath is NOT preying on their own kind, because they, themselves, are a different species. Maybe they are mutations from way back in history, or maybe they are a combination type - a mix of say, Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon that gave a big brain to a soulless body?
Just a bit of speculation.
Let us say for a moment that you've misjudged the narcissist, or perhaps a non-narcissist person who has become a detrimental force in your life. If you have misjudged them, your withdrawing doesn't prevent them from proving they are good people. Your withdrawal doesn't hurt someone in an irreparable way. Yes, maybe their feelings get hurt, but normal people are able to function in spite of some hurt feelings and eventually their feelings will resolve. What I'm saying is that withdrawing is the kindest and least damaging of any other action you can take. The other person, if misjudged by you, will lead their lives in such a way that will prove they are something other than what you thought they were.
This is the major point about Vinnie Bridges; you see, all we wanted to do was withdraw from association with him and that is what he would not allow. So, like Anna says, yeah, withdrawing can hurt a person's feelings, but a normal person can function in a decent way with hurt feelings. Vincent could not. Nor could StormBear or Andrew Rowland (and other members of the gang). Each and every one of them is someone we simply wished to have no further association with. That was it. End of story. Let's bifurcate; you go your way, we go ours.
But they could not tolerate that. And that, above all other things, is what demonstrated their pathology. That is what showed us that we had NOT misjudged them. As Gurdjieff said:
"A decent man will behave decently even if he thinks that he has been treated unjustly or wrongly. But many people in such circumstances show a side of their nature which otherwise they would never show. And at times it is a necessary means for exposing a man's nature. So long as you are good to a man he is good to you. But what will he be like if you scratch him a little?"
You may or may not be aware of how they are leading their lives, nevertheless, your withdrawal does not damage anyone's ability to carry on their lives successfully.
That's the bottom line: we did NOTHING to damage Vincent's ability to carry on his life successfully. And had he behaved with even a modicum of decency, we might even have re-thought our assessment of him. Instead, he immediately set about proving us right - and even more! Not only was he not a person we would want to have any kind of business (or other) relationship with, he was whacked out beyond belief!
You are no one's savior. Staying in the narcissist's life is not going to someday save them. Leaving them will not destroy them (no matter what they tell you). If you decide you must withdraw, do so without apology or shame. If you happen to be wrong, your withdrawal is not going to damage the other person's life. If you didn't misjudge, you've taken an action that has protected your self without taking retaliatory actions against the other party. Narcissists would like to pretend your withdrawal is retaliatory, but that is a lie. It is the kindest, gentlest way of dealing with their toxicity. It acknowledges that you are not willing to be hurt anymore, and that you've abdicated the idea that the narcissist's salvation somehow is dependent on you. While they characterize "no contact" by you as cruel, the opposite is true. It is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and for them. They are deprived of using you and you are not responsible for increasing their evil by letting them hone it on you.
Refusing to forget the past is thrown in your face like it is a bad thing, but if you don't have any recollection of the terrible damage a tidal wave can do, then you won't know enough to get off the beach when the water draws back. Remembering the past is essential for survival. It is not a fault of character. An operational memory is what helps keep us safe! Don't let someone shame you with that.
The narcissist should be asking us for our forgiveness. Instead, they demand us to forget. There is a very large difference between the two. They don't want forgiveness, they want us to wipe our memories into blanks. Why? Because they want carte blanche to recommit their crimes against us at their whim.
That is the bottom line of why Vincent went through such concatenations to try to force us to remove our reports about his background and his activities. Pathologicals really do hate being exposed more than anything, and that is the one thing that must be done, again and again and again, so that they are deprived of their ability to con others.
What has Vincent done with his life since then? He has concentrated every waking hour to defaming me, my family, friends, work, groups, etc. He has done not one single productive, creative thing that helps one single other person on the planet. He has made a fool of himself over and over again on the net. Oh, sure, in the beginning, he was able to get people to believe his lies; but the netizens are growing up. His rant doesn't play in Peoria anymore. So many people are wise to him and his kind that they are now jokes, buffoons, so obvious in their petty rages that even the formerly credulous are getting bored.
This is why I refuse to let the bad guys make the rules for my life anymore. The criminals want to make the rules. Their demands always boil down to the same thing--that I continue on as before and allow the narcissist the right to abuse me as they see fit. Well, I have a good enough memory, and enough sense, to know that I have been dealing with a force of nature. My desire for it to be different won't change it. When the blizzard threatens, I'm locking the doors and not stepping a toe outdoors until it has moved on. While the storm rages, I'll be quietly and contentedly reading a book or taking a nap. No, my heart isn't full of hate. I'm very happily and realistically leading a life out of the path of the storm.
"A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished." Prov 22:3 (NKJV)