I remember that Hannah used to be a confidante for me. I especially went to her if I had trouble with dating. She was in her late 60’s and had a wealth of life experiences. I loved listening to her outrageous stories of growing up in New Orleans during the 1960’s. She had had sexual encounters with several famous rockstars and had sampled every kind of drug. I often told her that she should publish her randy memoirs. In the summer, we used to have lunch in her garden and drink red wine. Curious neighbors would come over to see what we were up to because Hannah radiated vivaciousness. They wanted in on our garden party. She supported herself by cutting hair and making paintings. She was an excellent beautician who had apprenticed at a Vidal Sassoon salon and fifty years of cutting hair had only made her better. However, clients got angry because she wouldn’t listen to them. She insisted on doing whatever she wanted when she cut their hair, but it was okay for me because I didn’t mind. I let her do whatever she wanted to my hair and 4 out of 5 times, it was gorgeous.
I would take my dating dilemmas to Hannah and if I was willing to endure listening yet again to how she had raised six children all by herself (which wasn’t true) and how she still grieved for her husband of 27 years (who divorced her for someone less insane demanding), then eventually, she would get to me and my problem du jour. Her suggestions were extremely helpful because she “had been everywhere and done everything”. She knew it all. In retrospect, I can admit that even then she was abusive, but I made excuses for her. “She’s an artist. She’s colorful and loud.” Many people did avoid her company, but I defended her.
After she returned to America, Hannah begged me to come and live with her. She was having trouble paying her bills and needed a roommate to halve her expenses, but it couldn’t be just anyone. She wanted someone like me who kept kosher and kept Shabbat. Meanwhile, I was unemployed and trying to figure out what my next step should be. Living together could have been beneficial for both of us. She seduced me with promises of “living like sisters” and offered me the loving family home that I was longing. She knew what was important to me and what I considered to be worthwhile, and she offered those things to me if only I would move to Dallas and share an apartment with her. When I hesitated, she got pissy with me. She was convinced it was the right solution for both of us and she did not understand why I wasn’t seeing things her way. (Picture me ignoring a red flag.) Her sudden vehemence made me extremely uncomfortable, but I couldn’t say why. It seems to me now that the reason was I don’t have boundaries. I didn’t grow up with boundaries. After two months of her whining, I agreed to go live with her because moving in with an old friend seemed like a good way for me to save money and I wanted the loving companionship that she promised to give me.
I wasn’t in Dallas 48 hours before she told me to move out! As soon as I gave her my share of the rent money, she was done with me – and that would be her pattern. Sweet as pie when she was waiting for money from me, dismissive as soon as I paid her. It turns out that Hannah needed $1200 to fix her car and she actually believed that I would travel to Dallas, give her all my money, and then leave immediately. She was okay with setting me up like that because she is a narcissist. People are only of interest to her while they have something to give. Once they run dry, she discards them. But that wasn’t what hurt me – it was the covert verbal abuse, comments that were backhanded compliments. “That dress looks good on you considering how big you are.” Her usual verbal abuse was to say “You would be prettier if you would dress like me, do your make-up like me, wear your hair like me, lose weight like me, look like me.” These comments served two purposes: they made it clear that the victim was unattractive (which made me feel insecure) and they made it clear that the narcissist was superior and special. Everything was about appearances with the narcissist.
All of a sudden she fabricated an agreement that we had supposedly made, that I would get out of her home after six weeks. I had spent all my money to get to Dallas and I didn’t know anyone else in Texas, so I moved into a homeless shelter. (See posts tagged ‘Dallas” and ‘Homeless Shelter’.) I had survived six weeks of Hannah’s constant verbal abuse (and drug use) and one month of being in a homeless shelter. That was my time in Dallas. I went from “living like sisters” to being a bum on the street. Crash and burn.
Later, I made the classic mistake of trying to get justice by writing her a letter. Her reply is a glorious example of the callousness and irrationality of a narcissist. I posted it here: http://18mitzvot.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/dissecting-a-narcissists-monologue/
I went No Contact after that. I blocked her emails by having them sent directly to the trash; I changed my phone number; and I unfriended her on Facebook. It was a perfectly executed No Contact and it worked just the way it is supposed to. I set a limit for the narcissist and did not permit her to trespass my boundary. In return, I could relax, knowing that she couldn’t hurt me anymore.
I was wondering why I succeeded in going No Contact with Hannah, despite her continued efforts to bleed me dry and to hurt my feelings – yet I have difficulty maintaining No Contact with other narcissists in my life. I came up with a small list of reasons why I succeeded to set NC boundaries in this case.
It seems to me that the common thread is to give up hope. I told myself “She has behaved like this for 70 years and she continues to mistreat everyone around her. She isn’t going to change. She doesn’t want to change.” I gave up on her, established a boundary of No Contact, and did not yield. I miss our lunches with wine, but if I were to cut her some slack, she would manipulate me again. No Contact worked because I made it about reality. What is she really capable of when it comes to respecting me? I am still hurt and I am still angry at her for using me for money and then discarding me. Sadly, that too was Projection. She used me like a prostitute because she believes herself to be like a prostitute. She treated me the way she expects to be treated because she is driven by a fear of being damaged goods. This is not my problem to take on. I cut my losses and went No Contact. Now she can’t hurt me anymore.
“A Successful No Contact Story.” is copyright © 2014 by 18mitzvot. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
You must log in to post a comment.