“Before bed, he would be so charming,” friends observed about Frank Sinatra. “The girl was ‘mademoiselle this,’ ‘darling that,’ and ‘my sweet baby.’ He was cavalier, a perfect gentleman. You never saw anything like this man in your life. He’d jump across the room to light a cigarette. He’d fill her glass with champagne every time she took a sip.”
That’s the big “valuing.” The worm narcissists dangle before our needy eyes. The diamond they twirl. The carrot they stick under our twitchy, hungry codependent noses.
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Once they catch us, mark us as a complete forward pass on their scorecard, get what they need, next comes The Great Discard aka de-valuing.
“It was the next day when we’d always find the other Frank [Sinatra], the one who wouldn’t speak to the girl, who had been the most beautiful woman in the world the night before. Sometimes, he wouldn’t even go near her, nor would he tolerate any affectionate overtures from her. Humped and dumped. The minute the conquest was achieved, kaput.”
And that is how the game is played by narcissists, m’friends. Beautiful, ain’t it.
Always remember that being chosen by a narcissist is a huge back-handed compliment. They don’t choose mean people. They don’t choose selfish people. They don’t choose cold, aloof people. Heck no!
Narcissists always choose sweet, warm, caring people. Giving people. Selfless people. Generous people. Loving people. Unfortunately, codependent people.
They choose people who give a lot but also need a lot. We need love, because we don’t love ourselves. Need approval, because we’re incapable of self-approval. Need compliments because life has torn us down. Need vicarious self-esteem, because we learned how to loathe ourselves at the knee of a narcissistic parent. Our narcissist gives all of that to us…for a while. The relationship is a symbiotic give-and-take between two needy people.
The narcissist needs to be coddled. To be praised. To be assured he’s in the right. That the rest of the world is out to get him because they’re jealous of his superiority. He craves validation of his victimhood.
The codependent needs to feel the power inherent in the ability to fix the narcissist’s fractured, sad little world. To have all the answers for him. Meanwhile, we revel in the compliments they’re temporarily heaping upon us. They tell us, “I adore you. I would die for you. I love you to the moon and back.” Give us jewelry, flowers, candlelit dinners.
Most of all, the narcissist makes us feel needed. He dotes on us as much as we dote on him…
But it can’t last, y’know. Truth…will…out. It always does.
The Great Discard might be triggered by the narcissist finding someone else to seduce to feed their ego.
But, just for shits and giggles, let’s say the Great Discard starts when the narcissist does something wrong. Upright, forthright, downright wrong. For the first time, there’s absolutely no way you can be on his side. For the first time in your relationship you’re not in his corner.
Or you may be physically unable to do, well, nearly everything for them because of illness or accident.
Or you may be the child of a narcissist who has reached the Age of Majority and moved out to have your own, independent life despite their neediness, their helplessness, their love-bombing and myriad manipulation to get you to happily live in their basement forever.
Or you may have come across the concept of codependence, grown a ball or two and a barbed-wire topped boundary fence.
Or you may have stumbled across the topic of narcissism and suddenly, you’re “onto” them. You may even have made the wonderful “mistake” of telling them, “Hey! You’re a narcissist!”
Whatever the cause, “Hell hath no fury…” as a narcissist “threatened” by an alternative version of reality than their warped version.
And suddenly, you find yourself chucked on the ash heap of history along with yesterday’s newspaper and wilted cabbage leaves.
Shock! Utter complete, confusing, gut-wrenching shock. That’s how the Great Discard feels at first.
Ah, how well I remember watching a scapegoated family member go through it. One day her Golden Child brother would speak to her. The next, he wouldn’t. She mourned over it, examined it six ways from Sunday and wept over it for years. No explanation was ever given. There was never any closure.
Aye, closure. That’s the most painful part of being discarded. The confusion mixed with the pain.
They said they loved us, but now they’re threatening us with the law.
They said they adored us, but now they’re blackening our character to anyone who will listen.
They said they’d die for us, but they won’t let us live in peace.
They gave generously to us of their own free will and now they say we’re “spoiled” and are reneging on their gifts, demanding (illegally) that we give it all back.
They said they adored us. We didn’t imagine it. They said it. We heard them say it of their own free will, over and over again.
So what gives?
Since starting Narcissism Meets Normalcy, I’ve always said one thing: Narcissists are logical. Theirs may be a twisted logic, but it’s not impossible to follow. A close cousin of logic is practicality.
Why keep someone around who doesn’t meet your needs anymore? It’s not logical. It’s not practical. Love doesn’t seem to enter into their decision making process.
We existed in their life to fill a need. We played a role. We had a purpose. When we failed to meet that need, stopped playing that role we were discarded. It’s really rather simple.
But nothing gets you discarded on that ash heap faster, harder and more permanently than telling the narcissist, “Hey! You’re a narcissist.” The debate rages on if, how and when you should tell a narcissist that they’re a narcissist.
In my case, I used it as a litmus test. In my official “No Contact” letter, I offered to tell them the “core dynamic” I’d discovered that had informed my decision to go “No Contact.” I did not reveal what the “core dynamic” was in that letter. Rather, I left it incumbent on them to request the reason. It was a test. Would they write back, showing me the respect of asking to know why? If they loved me and had humility, they would write back and want to know the core dynamic. If they were narcissists, they would not write back.
They failed the test. For fourteen months, they didn’t give a shit. Finally, fourteen months later, one of them wrote back and wanted to know the “core dynamic.” Fourteen months!
I don’t know. Like you, I struggle with this question every day. I like to think that in some corner of their souls, narcissists can love. But the true life stories of most of my readers do not back me up. Still, hope springs Eternal, right?
Oddly enough, I felt loved. Actually loved because my narcissists were the engulfing (chocolate) flavor, not the neglecting (vanilla) flavor of narcissists. And I’ve long suspected they’re wringing their hands and their little handkerchiefs saying, “We loved her so much. We gave her so much. How could she do this to us? I guess we never knew Lenora was such a horrible person. We must’ve spoiled her. That’s why she’s doing this. She’s spoiled! When we stopped giving, she turned on us.”
Utter bullshit, of course!
So how was I so easily discarded after I went “No Contact”? Why were you so easily discarded?
- We no longer met any of their needs.
- We no longer stroked their ego.
- We no longer mopped up their messes.
- We told them when they were in the wrong.
- We could no longer be brainwashed.
- We could no long be bribed with money and gifts.
- We called them out on their lies.
- We set up boundaries on their prying.
- We refused to let them abuse us anymore.
- We refused to let them abuse our spouse or our children anymore.
- Worst of all, we told them they were narcissists.
Must’ve been excruciatingly painful for them, triggering full-scale narcissistic collapse. They don’t want us around any more. We’re “dangerous” to their fragile egos with the power to completely “destroy” them with the truth we hold so dear.
Do they still love us? Did they ever love us?
No one seems to know. But I do know that their discard of us has given them just another scenario for playing the victim, sobbing on the shoulder of the poor sap of a codependent who now plays the role we used to play.
Value, devalue, discard. Value, devalue, discard. What a ridiculous way to live!