First the incident…
I wanted to have a backyard bar-b-que for Labor Day weekend because I wanted to pretend for one lousy day that my household was like everybody’s else’s. I wanted to be normal. Because of my husband, Driftwood-the-Narcissist’s, bad behavior in the past, none of my friends would accept my invitation to come to our house and party with us. So I got my brother, John, to agree to come. Let’s be clear. I forced him. I told him blood was thicker than marriage and he was obligated by DNA to come over and help me have a normal BBQ. Under the circumstances, John agreed.
I was so excited. Having company meant cleaning the house, setting a pretty table with holiday decorations, and buying liquor. I was completely willing to pretend that I had a voluntary guest and that my household was normal. Sweep the dysfunction under the rug.
My brother arrived. I gave him a cold beer. We chatted while Driftwood started the grill. This was a dangerous moment for John and I. We knew that if Driftwood couldn’t get the grill to start, he was likely to throw it off the deck and attempt to smash it. John and I exchanged glances and without saying a word, he went outside to help my husband with the burgers. So far, so good.
From inside the house, I could hear Driftwood complaining that the fire was hotter on one side than the other and the burgers were too fat or too thin and that having a BBQ had been a stupid idea. Oh, well. At least it was only my brother who was forced to listen to his negativity. John was used to Driftwood’s surly behavior. The men called out that the burgers were almost ready and I came out with the hamburger buns.
At the sight of the hamburger buns, Driftwood started yelling. “I can’t believe that you spent money on buns!”
Me: We’re having hamburgers. Of course, I bought buns.
Narcissist: We have a loaf of bread.
Narcissist (still yelling): We have perfectly good bread we could have used. You could have put the burgers on slices of bread.
Me: It’s a party, Driftwood. I spent 86 cents on hamburger buns. We both have full-time jobs, you know. We can afford to spend 86 cents on some hamburger buns. I don’t understand why you are upset.
Narcissist (still yelling): I’m upset because YOU DON’T LISTEN TO ME!
Me: Look at the package. It has a price sticker right here. 86 cents.
Narcissist (still yelling): You never listen to me. You throw money around like it grows on trees. You bought that stupid Martha Stewart pillow when we had a perfectly good pillow already. You want to have fancy, designer pillows in the house while I am wearing three year old shoes.
At this point, the narcissist goes off about pillows. I don’t know. He doesn’t seem to need anyone to be listening to his rant. He fusses for his own enjoyment. My brother, my poor brother, is giving me the evil eye and rightly so. I put him in this uncomfortable position. And we’re both hungry. Do we eat the burgers? Do we call it a day? I can’t send him home hungry, so John and I eat the burgers on the hamburger buns, and Driftwood eats alone in his library. This time, my brother says he is not coming back again. No more parties. Yeah, I know.
It makes me so sad to remember these arguments with the narcissist. At the time, I was so confused. The words he was saying (yelling) were just so bizarre. I didn’t understand why he sabotaged my parties and I didn’t understand why it mattered to him that I spent 86 cents and I didn’t understand how a grown man could behave so badly in front of company and I didn’t know how to make him stop. Our homelife was such chaos and I didn’t know why.
This incident took place eleven years ago and I still feel the chaos like it was yesterday. It has taken me a very long time to be able to talk about the abuse that took place in my home, and the narcissist never hit me. In another post, I explain how we had 25 out of 30 kinds of abusive behaviors in our home and I wasn’t even aware that I was in danger.
So let’s look at this incident now that I have learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
#1. It was never about the 86 cents or the hamburger buns.
#2. Driftwood feels inadequate all the time. That’s why he verbally attacks the grill and complains that it cooks the food unevenly. He feels tremendous pressure to be perfect. Even his grilling must be perfect.
#3. Driftwood uses passive-aggressive behavior to scare off my guests. Instead of discussing his feelings, he sabotages the parties.
#4. Driftwood’s behavior is immature and self-absorbed. He continues to complain about the hamburger buns even when John and I are outside and can’t hear him. He doesn’t have a conversation or a discussion. Driftwood talks to thin air in the same way he talks to a person. “Narcissistic listening focuses on how to dismiss, negate, ignore, minimize, denigrate or otherwise render irrelevant other people’s concerns.” – Dr. Susan Heitler
#5. Driftwood finally reveals the true source of his distress when he yells, “You never listen to me!”
The narcissist needs to feel important and powerful. He is more special than everyone else and he wants that to be acknowledged. He literally wants people to worship him. He literally wanted me to ask his permission before I spent 86 cents on hamburger buns. He literally wanted me to acknowledge his superiority and to be in awe of his amazing-ness.
#6. Driftwood has no shame to behave badly in front of company. It truly does not distress him the way it distresses me. He’s not embarrassed because he thinks only of himself and his needs. If he needs to scold me, why should he care who else feels uncomfortable? It’s all about him. He is unable to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
#7. He uses “Word Salad”. He goes from talking about bread to Martha Stewart to shoes, until no-one understands what he is talking about. Sane people cannot follow his line of thinking because it is nonsense.
#8. He punishes us by taking his dinner alone. (Truthfully, we were grateful to be rid of him but it did ruin the party atmosphere.)
Why did he start this fight?
In this case, Driftwood probably used the opportunity of an audience (me and my brother) to make an example of how inferior I was and how superior he was. He probably felt that any party should center around him and be an occasion to worship him. The hamburger rolls were an excuse to chastise me in public and attempt to convince my brother that I was irresponsible. He felt entitled to dump his bile on us because a narcissist does not care about other people’s feelings. Also, he could now use the “fact” that I wasted money on buns when we had bread, in all future arguments. He is a sick, sick man.
Kim Saeed wrote an excellent article about narcissists who enjoy inflicting financial abuse.
Recognizing Domestic Violence: http://18mitzvot.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/violence-escalates/
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