Dear Chump Lady.
After dating a succession of men who turned out to be cheaters and/or NPDers, I got into therapy to come to terms with family-of-origin issues and NPD in some relatives. After my “epiphany” and subsequent “housecleaning” of unhealthy friends and lovers, I am much healthier, happier and in charge of my life.
I am still in permanent no-contact mode with the offenders, even in the face of peer-pressure. Not surprisingly, the offenders have been able to finesse an “innocent victim” act with large swaths of people I know.
Can you offer nuggets of wisdom on how to settle my stomach when getting the evil eye from gullible third parties who side with the character-disordered whom I once thought had better judgment than that? In most cases, I have severed ties with such people. But if I cannot absent myself from a situation and/or make clear that I will not “engage,” one helpful tactic has been to draw an invisible forcefield around myself so that their and an NPD’s projections, scapegoating and/or bad energy can’t penetrate my psyche.
I’d love to hear from you and fellow chumps on what you and they do (affirmations, actions, comedic sketches) to stay emotionally healthy on the road to freedom.
It all boils down to “trust that they suck.” All you can do is trust your senses and believe in your reality. Whatever the wing nut did to you — it really happened. You set a boundary, which in your case sounds like no contact, and you’re maintaing that boundary. Once you do that, you have to let go of the consequences, like what other people think. You only control you. You don’t control other people’s perceptions of the wing nut, or of you.
Here’s the thing with truly disordered people — they’re consistent. Yes, they’re terrific at impression management and playing the poor sausage. People buy the sparkles, enjoy the flattery, feel useful when the poor sausage needs their special understanding. But eventually, over time, the crazy shows. It’s who they are. They’re going to fuck over the next person, leave a wake of chaos, and also likely — they’re going to chump the very people who are taking their side now. Or at least feigning “neutrality.” I really don’t want to judge. I like you both. Aren’t you being a bit harsh? Can’t you make peace?
Do you really want people in your life who feel “neutral” about infidelity and emotional abusiveness? They’re saying — hey, he might’ve fucked you over, but he’s really very nice to me, and being nice to me is what Really Matters here. Can’t you eat that shit sandwich for my sake?
If these third parties are family, well, then I think you need to set the bar higher than frienemies and acquaintances. You might have to have a truce, an agree-to-disagree stalemate. In which case, the tactic I recommend is change the subject. Why don’t you like Xavier? Are you still holding that grudge? Xavier is so nice, he told me he was sending you a Christmas card! Don’t take the bait. “Hey, do we have any more leftover ham?” Deflect.
Realize too that most people generally want to believe the best of everyone. It’s unnerving to think there are disordered people roaming about, that predators exist, that some people are truly all impression management and no substance. It’s much easier to believe that you, Telo, are overreacting. That you’re too sensitive. That you took things too far. To believe you would mean believing an ugly, scary truth. Much better to feel a sense of control, that one can finesse the situation through diplomacy instead of isolationism. Much easier to think the disordered person is misunderstood or hard done by and this is why they behave that way. People who have shaky boundaries are often unnerved by people who have firm boundaries. It’s threatening. It’s difficult. So, Telo, why don’t you play nice and alleviate all the awkwardness?
Telo, stick to your guns. Don’t worry about the stink eye from others. Just live your life with integrity. Be a good person. I’m sure you’re consistent in not sucking. The good people will notice. The good people will hold you close. Don’t worry about the rest.