top of page

Ending the Cycle of Narcissistic Relationships

This is the last episode of Season 1 and I want to thank all of my listeners who have joined in with the journey over the past 10 months. Today is not just any episode or interview – in fact, really, none of them have been that way but this one is incredibly important and special. 

On December 17, I was reading what was I believe my third book in a month on narcissism because even though I didn’t see it even then – still trapped in a narcissistic relationship that, as I would discover in the next year of therapy – was extremely traumatizing – even more so than I knew – of course until I tried to leave it all behind and couldn’t shake it off for months and months. 

I NEVER knew or believed up until this book on that day in December a year and a half ago that I was actually attracted to THEM, perhaps just as strongly as they were attracted to me. 

And, up until that day – while I walked around like everyone else with our bag of bad childhood experiences and memories – my mantra was the “Past is the past. It has nothing to do with what you do today.”  And I realized in a flash when I read the words “childlike and powerless” in a paragraph on page 63 of the book – that I was wrong. Those memories were everything. 

And in the course of the last year, as many of you have listened along the way, you have heard me describe resetting dip switches in my brain as the healing has been happening – well this was the first dip switch to click into place. 

From there, I traveled into the world of childhood trauma, emotional neglect. I started therapy less than month later and went every week for 3 months. And I adjusted the sails on the boat immediately with my children when I realized that if I didn’t correct myself right then and there – I would be planting similar experiences and memories into THEIR brains. 

I couldn’t change my past BUT I could change their future. And this is why this show, One Broken Mom, exists today.

So, today, to say its an honor is an understatement to have with me Wendy Behary – the author of the book that literally changed my life -  “Disarming the Narcissist”. Because it seems to fit to end my first season at the beginning of the story. 

In this episode you will hear us talk about: 

1. An overview of the narcissistic personality

2. Schemas & Scripts and how they are created and the work of Jeffrey Young in the treatment of the Narcissistic personality disorder.

3. How these Schemas and scripts drive some of us to co-habitat with Narcissists over and over again. 

4. What are the Personal Traps we fall into with narcissistic people

5. How some of us ‘chose’ even subconsciously to be with a manipulative or abusive person and how this happens 

6. The other ways that the maladaptive schemas that link us up with Narcissists hurt us in other areas of life and with other non-Narcissists

7. What kind of work should someone do on themselves first before they tackle trying to manage a relationship with a narcissist




Full Episode Transcript

Amee:0:12 You are listening to One Broken Mom it podcast dedicated to raising awareness about mental health, parenting and self improvement I'm the host, Amee Quiriconi. One Broken Mom is not a family show. It is intended for adults only and may contain its own language. Sometimes the topics are serious but you can count on the episodes to be a team. Also, One Broken Mom is not offering any psychiatric or medical diagnosis. We're just here giving away useful and important information so if you're ready to hear real talk by real people so that we can all get better together, then you're in the right place and welcome. Amee:0:47 Well everyone, you are listening to the final episode of season one and I want to thank all of my listeners who have joined on this journey with me for like the last 10 months. Today is not just any episode or interview. In fact really none of them have been, I would say up to this point, but this one is an incredibly important one for me. On December 17th of 2017 I was reading what I believe was probably my third book in the month on Narcissism because even though I didn't see it, even then, I was still trapped in a narcissistic relationship. I felt like I was out of it, but didn't realize it still had holds on me. And I was trying to figure out how to kind of move away from that. Um, and it would take a year of therapy to figure out that I was still in the, in the binds of a narcissistic relationship. Amee:1:31 And it was traumatizing, um, and even more so than I knew, um, that I couldn't shake it off and I wouldn't be able to shake it off for many months moving forward. And so I had sought out for a while to understand this narcissistic personality for a couple of years because I had known really since about 2015 or 2016 that that was what I was dealing with. And I wanted to know how I could manage the situation, but also I was noticing that there was a pattern in my life, unfortunately. And that I seem to be attracting them to me, just not in personal relationships but also in business partnerships. And I like so many people just thought I had bad luck or that I had a magnet strapped to my forehead and then if I could just figure out where it was and how to move it, um, I could just avoid them. Amee:2:16I never knew or believed up until this book right here, um, that on December a year and a half ago, that it was actually that I was attracted to them and perhaps just as strongly as they were attracted to me. And up until that day, while I walked around like everybody else with our bag of bad childhood experiences and memories, my mantra was the past is the past and it has nothing to do with what you do today. And I realized in a flash when I read the words childlike and powerless and a paragraph on page 63 of this book that I was wrong, and those memories were actually everything. I put the book down, you immediately having what I can describe as a bright in my brain. And the most painful memory of my life immediately played out and I got up and I paced around the house for several minutes crying because I felt this emotional release that was just indescribable. Amee:3:13And in the course of the last year, as many of the listeners out there know, you've heard me describe setting dip switches in my brain is I've been going through therapy and healing and talking with some amazing people in the last year and that the healing has been happening and that this was in fact on December 17th the first dip switch to get switched off in my head. And so from there, from this book, I traveled through the world of childhood trauma, emotional neglect, and I started therapy less than a month after and I went every week for three months and I adjusted the sales on my boat immediately with my children. When I realized that if I didn't recover and heal myself, I would be planting similar experiences and memories and to their brains. I couldn't change my past, but I could change their future. And so today to say it's an honor, it's an understatement to have with me. You, Wendy Behary, the author of the book that literally changed my life, Disarming The Narcissist. So Wendy, welcome to One Broken Mom. Wendy:4:10Wow, Amee. Thank you so much for having me. I'm, I'm touched and inspired and um, at the little bit overwhelmed from where you just started, but it's so incredibly meaningful to me because it really captures the motivation for writing the book initially the first edition and then the second edition, it was written for women and men like yourself. Amee:4:39Well, I would say, you know, I don't want to sound all melodramatic about all of this, but, um, you know, the book is about strategies, which is why I got it to shift power away from narcissists in a relationship. But for me, the experience that I got out of it was that, um, I was the one that ended up being disarmed, you know, that I went from my mind shift shifted from being in this defensive position to that day, asking myself, why are you even on the battlefield to begin with? And so was that an intent that you had when you put this book together? Wendy:5:09It's, yeah. Yeah. I mean, it has to be in, based on my experience over so many years of working both with the narcissist themselves in the treatment room, but even more so to a large degree with those who have been offended by the narcissist in their lives. The, the order of healing really comes from making sense out of not just the person you're dealing with. We have to make sense out of what we're up against, meaning the narcissist. But we also have to make sense out of our own lives so that we can sturdy ourselves to be able to take on those strategies that are in my book for disarming the narcissist, for being able to hold them accountable, set limits or leave if need be. But the status quo is no acceptable for being abused, for being forgotten, for being erased and dismissed. But in order to do that, we have to develop a very sturdy and clear understanding of who they are and who we are in that relationship. Amee:6:13Yeah. And I think that was, you know, like I said, two years of reading about narcissism and developing an empathetic view of it. And that was one of the big things is that I thought that if I cared enough about my narcissistic partner that I could shift beliefs. And so that was why, you know, I ended up on this, this travel pattern to a book like, okay, well this didn't work and how do I get there? And, um, but it was the, the real life, the realization of, you know, you're not just unfortunately unlucky that they just happened to stumble across your path. It was sitting back and looking for the first time that, you know, you're actually, you're, your missiles are guided towards them, you know, and I know that that was, that was the most stunning piece of it. And then for me to go back and go, what was it about myself that, that put me on the path forward with all of them. Amee:7:00Um, I want to start the conversation though. Let's, let's talk about the narcissistic personality and the, and the narcissistic personality disorder. Because there is a lot of pop psychology out there. Um, and I'm sure as you know, there's a lot of, uh, it's a label that gets applied a lot. And I know that to me what I've read is that it's either, it's either everywhere, you know, every ex boyfriend we've ever had has been a narcissist or it's not as common as it seems. And so can you help kind of lay the groundwork on, on this personality type? Wendy:7:32Yeah, it's a great question and it is an important question because we're seeing the term narcissist now more than ever and it is being used somewhat generically to describe anyone who behaves in a way that might be somewhat self centered. Um, and, and while many people can have narcissistic traits where they do go through, um, perhaps moments, phases and time or even steadily, they show signs of, you know, being self absorbed or acting entitled, that doesn't necessarily meet the criteria for full blown narcissistic personality disorder. So we think about narcissism happening along a spectrum and that there are, in my book, I list 13 traits. There are many traits that go into that diagnosis, if you will, or at least, you know, building your impressions and realizing that you're in a relationship with a narcissist. And that would include things that are more than just being a little selfish or a little too charming or a little bit of a show off. Wendy:8:34Those all inclusive, but also they're demanding and they do have this sense of I can have what I want when I want it, how I want it, where I want it. So they can be, you know, extremely demanding and controlling, condescending and degrading to the people that they're with. A, they have this sense of needing to be incredibly extraordinary and being approved of and adored for it. Um, the have this impulse to, to kind of be in this one upmanship position most of the time at the severe end of the spectrum, you'll see those that can be aggressive and even violent and abusive or as it, the more benign into the spectrum. They may just be annoying. Um, but still all in all the question you're asking yourself is, when I'm in the presence of this person, do I feel present too? I feel seen. Do I feel understood? Are they asking questions and actually listening to my answers due to I become erased and, and, and we can didn't small. When I'm in the presence of this person, those are the questions we ask. And that becomes, you know, a little bit of a guide way to understanding what type of personality I might be dealing with. Amee:9:50Yeah. Now, one of the things that, you know, that's kind of troubling, let's say when you're a person that's been around somebody that is narcissistic, is you can't the only person that can label them as really you. Um, meaning that I, you know, I can go in and, and willingly go into therapy and sit down with the therapist and we can talk about my afflictions are my, you know, the things that I'm working on and stuff. And they can, they can help me identify that. But when you're with a narcissist, it's your word against theirs. You know, meaning that they're not willingly going in. There isn't like some sort of a, you know, a checklist that says yes, you're definitely a narcissist, that they become aware and they make any changes. And I guess what I mean is, is that it's, it's hard when you're in that situation to sit there and say, well, I think you're being narcissistic because naturally the narcissist comes back and says you're wrong. Amee:10:41There's nothing, you know, and, and you don't have, like, there isn't this checklist that we all have to go, well, but you just met these boxes or you know, is there, so I guess what, let me get back to my question. My question is, is how do we help somebody identify if they truly have the, the presence of this narcissistic person in them so that they can take the next step towards really receipt thinking about what their strategy is to get beyond it. Because a narcissist just really good at manipulating your sense of reality and your perception of them and to make you think and second guess it. And unless there's a third person out there saying, nope, that person's definitely a narcissist. You're, you're, you struggle. Does that make sense? Wendy:11:17Yeah it does. And the truth is, as I said, the reason why it's helpful to think about it happening along the spectrum is it doesn't have to be so absolute. You know, when you're in a relationship with someone who makes you feel erased, who kind of sets out the bait and then switches, you know, asks you a question or an opinion. And when you share it, they demean it. Or they look at you like you're crazy. Or why would you say that? Or why would you want to go to that restaurant? What's wrong with you? So it feels like you're constantly being set up or as you said to me, that it can be also this altering of reality, this gas lighting that not atypical was narcissist. So, you know, I sometimes say to my clients, you can diagnose it a little bit from the gut. Wendy:12:00You know, you don't need a pure scientific, you know, diagnostic, statistical, manual diagnosis in order to feel free, are permitted to be able to explore the possibility that you're dealing with someone who's narcissistic and a therapist who understands these traits and signs can at least say, you know, based on your experience, you know, I have, my impression is that this is what you might be up against. And therefore in order to either heal this relationship or emancipate yourself from this relationship, you're going to need to assess whether you have any leverage. Now leaving you can leave, right? You can walk out of a relationship not so easy all the time when you love someone or you're sharing children with them. But you know, if, if it's just a matter, if it's a matter of feeling guilt or self doubt or what if it is me or what if he is right and I'm using the heat cause I work mostly with narcissistic men and I know there's plenty of divas out there that you know, can give them a run for their money. Wendy:13:02But I'm going to stick with that Pronoun for now since it's more commonly what we're, we're seeing and talking about. Um, but I'll ask women frequently, do you have any leverage? Meaning is there any consequence that's so meaningful, like losing you, you know, losing contact with you, losing the whole relationship, losing something that is meaningful enough to the narcissist that might persuade them to get some help. And if that's the case, I mean don't throw out idle threats and be ready to at least explore even the possibility that the relationship could be fading somewhere down the path and see if that's enough to at least hook them, get them inspired to want to seek out some help because they won't do it. As you said, they won't walk in voluntarily looking for help saying hello, I'm a narcissist. Um, so a lot of it is a sensing of, I don't feel like I have a voice anymore. Wendy:14:00I don't feel like I get a say. I don't feel like my ideas, opinions, wishes, longings needs are being respected or even heard in this relationship. I feel I'm constantly being set up to get it wrong, to have the wrong answer. I feel like it's his way or no way. I mean these are the kinds of feelings and sensations that are going to be drawn to our realization when we're thinking, you know, I might be dealing with someone who's narcissistic. Amee:14:52 Yeah. And I've said this when I've done some of the other interviews with some of the other gas stats. Sometimes the topics and the subject matter actually elicit a physical response in me and my physical responses. This tightening in my chest. So as you're going through all this signs, you know that, that you're dealing with my body. I mean, and again, this is a part of realizing that you know, just how the abuse canactually be to you is that I'm out of the relationship, but I can still feel that sensation when you say those things of like, yeah, no, that's exactly, and I kind of feel like you're back in it. So I guess for, you know, other people that are listening in here, if, if what Wendy just went through made you feel, you know, some, some sort of anxiety rise in you, I would tell you from experience, it's probably a pretty good sign that she, you know, you've, you've hit on a few of those really key points. I recently had an experience to, uh, with somebody that, uh, early on, not even like at an any, not even a dating standpoint, having gone through this experience have been able to pull myself out and be an objective witness too. You know, this realm rather than this, and you know, this integrated participant, an actor in the, in the world of the narcissistic world, I started to see red flags so much earlier that I just dismissed before and overlooked and was able to, uh, you know, really kind of a void, you know, conflict and somebody that was saying and doing things that would have certainly led to another abusive relationship, you know, the whole, like when you said, um, uh, for example, you know, I was talking about an achievement and achievement I was very proud of. Amee:16:04And the first thing out of this person's mouth was "I just don't think it was really that great. And sometimes you come off sounding stupid." And I'm like, and I was like, and I just kind of like check out, you know? And then it was like, okay, benefit of the doubt. I'm gonna and you know, and you kind of go through there and I kind of went through this checkbox and went, no, this isn't, this isn't working. And I know from the before, you know, this whole exercise, it would have been, oh yeah. Okay. And would have just kind of like, you know, been baited into it because the whole intent was, was to be able to devalue me in order to build me back up so I could show how important they really were at the end of it. And I just, um, you know, I've, I guess I've lost all taste for that kind of relationship now after having gone through there and for you. Amee:16:43Thanks. I know, I was like, whoa. Um, but it didn't get there by, without knowing what you talk about in this book and something that you're really active in your world of therapy and work, which is Schema and Schema therapy and scripts. And so this was a part of where I started to look, not applying how this works with a narcissist around me, but I started to apply this to myself. So can you talk about, um, the work that you work with Jeffrey Young, is that correct? Yes. And, and Schema therapy because this is what you've found to be very effective in dealing with this world of the narcissistic personality and stuff. So please explain what that is. Wendy:17:21Yeah. Schema therapy was founded by Dr. Jeffrey Young and I've worked with him since the late eighties and we began looking at how this model, um, could go beyond dealing with, um, you know, more, more acute sim w what we call symptom disorders or emotional disorders into personality disorders, which is what, you know, he was originally plotting when he came up with a Schema therapy comes out of cognitive behavioral therapy originally, but it's a very highly integrated model and now a highly researched model. So we have some beautiful evidence to support the effectiveness. He and I started working together on the approach for dealing with narcissists in the treatment room as well as those who are offended by narcissism in their lives. And schemas are basically, I mean, this is something we could talk about all day, but I'll see if I could just widdle it down to the simplest definition, which is schemas are basically emotional beliefs, you know, so it goes beyond those who are familiar with cognitive therapy. Wendy:18:29It goes beyond just beliefs that we have in our mind. It's experiences that we have had when we were very young. Typically experiences that led to certain needs not being net or experiences that may have been even more traumatic than that and abusive where needs are not being met for more toxic reasons. We all have schemas. Nobody has a perfect beginning either because of our biology and the way that were put together or the environment that we've grown up in, in spite of the best intentions of caregivers around us, teachers, siblings, parents, extended family schemas are these truths that get laid down in our brain and flow through our body with sensation when they get activated. So for example, if you're growing up in a home where you're made to feel that you're just not measuring up, you're just not good enough, you're never going to make it. Wendy:19:24Um, you could develop a Schema that we would call defectiveness where you feel unlovable and it can get triggered. I mean, even the healthiest of people may carry it within their core carry. It was in that reference library and their brain and get activated only under certain conditions that kind of sound like smell, like feel like look like the way it did once upon a time. And we don't even know it until we examine it. We're just reacting to it. So someone you know, shows up late or doesn't invite us to lunch. And, and there we are suddenly in tremendous pain and writing ourselves about it. You know, these idiots that don't care about me and how dare they and or we're trying to please them or we're going out of our way to overcome the date, those that we feel rejected by because there's deep belief that it's my fault, my problem, I'm not lovable enough. Wendy:20:17And there's 18 different early maladaptive schemas that work in combination coordination with one another. So the example I just gave would be an example of someone who may carry a Schema, very popular, one of feeling unlovable, feeling defective, feeling flawed, feeling broken at the core, even though they may look outstanding and they're doing well, but under certain conditions when it gets triggered, they shift into their self sacrificing mode or they sh they pick up the another scheme and that says, well, you know, it is your fault so you're just going to have to do all you can do and try not to be so needy, you know? So there's this scripts that get played out in the form of a whole choreography of sound and movement within us. And it's just really how memory works. This is the brain, you know, this is memory. You have an experience, it gets loaded into memory and under certain familiar conditions it gets triggered again and no one triggers us more powerfully than a narcissist. Amee:21:22I know from shortly after I had, you know, had gone through the book and stuff, I sat down and I read through journals and the miracle of having all the journals that I had taken since like it was 11 to about 15 years old daily. I wrote daily in my journals and being able to reread this a really important piece of my life and be able to put the pictures together and taking the information from the book and under this understanding of Schemas and what, and and trying to look for what my Schema was because I had never examined what I thought I was. I thought I was the person that you see here today. I'm confident, I'm intelligent, you know, I've got all these positive traits and stuff and it never occurred to me that there was this underlying real story, real truth to me that was actually that subconscious driving. Amee:22:08And when I read through the journals, I started to see a just a disturbing and heartbreaking scene for this. You know, this young girl that was clearly, I didn't feel like anybody paid attention to me. They did, but not at that deeply connecting and knowing who I was level. It was very superficial. It was, um, uh, and it, it, and I could see that I actually was starving for that and very confused. Even I even asked to be in therapy when I was in like 13 because I was feeling so, you know, kind of not understanding my life and my world around me. But what I started to do at the bottom of most of my journal entries was one day I'll show them one day I'll show them one day I'm going to be big, one day I'm going to be powerful. One day I'm going to be, and this language was there decades ago. Amee:22:59And so then when I read that, I was like, well then now I know why that narcissistic person was attractive to me was because of the love bombing and the over the top attention that they throw at you because you are a trophy for them. And you believe that those people, because they want you so badly to do something for them that they're willing to. And those are the types that I've been into. The very, the ones that are very complimentary, very early on know how to play all those games, know how to push all those buttons. And I believed that that was affection and that that was the attention and not that it was a, um, that it was like bait on a line to get me kind of roped into it. Uh, and because that was the only type of attention that seemed positive than it was like, of course, then I felt like, well then I have to keep earning it, you know, and then it was shifting those modes back, Wendy:23:46um, of, well now I'm in a familiar place again. I'm with somebody that I have to work really hard to get them to see me and they don't see me now and now here I am being this little girl, but never seen that, never seen that, that Schema or that script in there. Now I bring this up, not because the show's about me just talking about myself, but um, I bring it up because when I sat there and looked at the fact that in that way I was looking for that personality. I felt like that was an important thing for other people to possibly take the self examination right. That um, that we don't choose to be around abusive people. It's not a, it's not a conscious choice. Right. Right. But there are underlying drivers here that can draw us to there. When working with people that have been persistent and recurring narcissistic relationships, what are some of the things that you've seen or helped people maybe realize about themselves that maybe it felt like me, like I just seem to attract narcissist and what's going on, you know, have you been able to help them explore that possibility that they're moving themselves in that direction? Wendy:24:55It starts with the realization. I think, I'll go back to something you said. I mean, which was really powerful. It's that you discovered there was another story happening behind the story. So this isn't necessarily a facade. This is a part of you that's healthy and competent and confident, but under certain conditions you are like any other human susceptible to being triggered by the other story that happens in the back scene. And unfortunately we can see that once we're in it, it feels like a truth. It feels like it's real. What's real? Maybe the experience that occurred once upon a time. So in other words, one can be made to feel that they are not lovable or to not get the empathy that's needed to support the protection, the guidance, the encouragement, praise, the safety, all the things that a child needs to feel connected, to develop, autonomy to become competent, et Cetera, to learn how to mingle in the world and and have healthy interpersonal connections. Wendy:25:57Once that becomes discovered in treatment, and we do that by linking current stress with what feels familiar about that, look in the buddy, look in the mind, look in the images that come up that get conjured up. We try to make sense out of it. So even though the experience may have been real, it's not a truce. And I can't tell you how many times I've said to a client, yes, your father said you were a loser, but that doesn't make it true. The problem is you were little and you believed him. That's not your fault. It's just what we do. You know that if someone is not loving us the way we need to be loved, we start to build a whole idea around that and, and it has emotional power that can be intolerable when you're little and you're not getting your needs met, but it becomes this map or this of just surviving and getting through by holding onto this strong idea that people aren't going to meet your needs, you're going to have to work really hard for it. Amee:26:53Yeah, and I've heard that and I've heard that a lot from people. That's unfortunately a common story. I'm sure that you've heard too, which is, "I'm in this world by myself. The only person I can trust is my self and I have to do everything on my own." And I know that that was a big piece of my mentality Wendy:27:06And it's easy to feel very lonely when you're in a relationship with a narcissist because they are so self absorbed. So loneliness becomes something that gets first discovered in the treatment room. I mean, if you're being abused, obviously that will come up early on too. But even if the narcissist is more covert and not necessarily aggressive, you can feel incredibly lonely in that relationship. And the therapy is really aimed at trying to meet the unmet needs. If I'm working with a narcissist or I'm working with the partner, it's trying to meet those unmet needs. It's trying to unlearn that quote unquote truth about myself. It's developing a voice that is not just loud and angry, but really speaks what's you're feeling inside and it's righteous in a healthy way. And it says, this is not acceptable. It's a voice that can actually say, nope, that's not acceptable to me. Wendy:28:05That's not going to work. Or You may not have meant to be hurtful, but it hurts, so we're not going to do this again. You know? And it really acts as an advocate, maybe one that was needed way back when and never, they're not present that you've now developed for yourself in the here and now. So it's entering the room basically like that. Healthy, confident. Individually you may be in the workplace or with your friends or someplace else. It's walking into the room with the narcissist and having the ability to bring that healthy adult, not the four year old or the five year olds or six year old. You don't do it intentionally, but you want to make sure that you have safeguarded these parts of yourself that are more childlike and fragile and struggling because they live in memory. They live in the stories within our old experience. You want to bring the sturdy adults into the room who isn't ready to drop the gauntlet, but just able to speak honestly about what she needs, what's okay, what's not okay in that relationship. Amee:29:10Yeah. Now, what about a person that feels that they're, you know, maybe they had a single parent, maybe it was just a hardship in the household, but never felt like growing up that they were actually abused or neglected or that their own parents would have met the criteria of being narcissists themselves, but yet they still find themselves in one of these powerful and toxic relationships. You know, what do you think might be happening with a person like that? Wendy:29:43You know, again, the therapy is not ever at least Schema therapy and I think most therapies, but this model is not aimed at demonizing apparent, um, unless the patient for whatever reason needs to see the parent that way because it was really harsh and horrible abuse. But we're not aiming towards demonizing a parent who may have just been working really hard, was a single parent, had a lot to carry and the child suffered some of the collateral damage of that hardship, which may have been that they were somewhat neglected or that they learned watching just watching a mother who was so self sacrificing in her own relationship with the father or with her own father or with some with the community. Um, many an individual who grew up just believing that my needs should not come first because you watched a parent who was very overly generous and forfeited their needs. So it's a kind of legacy experience that also needs to become unlearned because we know that a healthy relationship is about reciprocity and it's about give and take. It's about both people getting their needs met, not perfectly, but at least adequately. Amee:30:58Um, personal traps is something that you talk about in the book and I don't know if that's kind of tied in with what we're, what we're conversing about right now, um, in identifying what those might be for somebody. Can you describe this, this section? I think it's like chapter three actually in the whole book, which is I think it's part of you walking us through the, here you are in a dynamic with a narcissistic person. And so let's talk about what are some of the things that maybe linking you in and connecting you to that, to that narcissist. Wendy:31:28Again, the more you know about yourself, if you're out there, you know, going into a new relationship or you've come out of a relationship with a narcissist can be incredibly traumatizing unto itself. And then the fear of stepping back into the world. And what if I miss the flags? What if I miss the signs? So there again, there are these signs and some of them have to do with, you know, do you feel there is an ability to um, there, there is a capacity for a give and take. There is eye contact. There is, um, not this overruling over charming as you were describing before. I mean this, you know, overly complimentary of complements are nice and affections nice and charm is fine, but you can feel it. It's almost over done decision. Well, different motivational driver, you know, the, it's not so much about you as it is about them coming off good and looking good and getting that approval and getting their way and may perhaps winning you over. Wendy:32:34Um, particularly if they do see you as a potential trophy in their life or they do see you as someone who's maybe also just, you know, willing to submit to their demands and their controls so that they can always have the upper hand in the relationship. So you want to watch for, you also want to watch yourself, you know, very closely to say, am I saying yes when I know that under other conditions I would have said no? Hmm? Am I saying no to this because he said no to this. When I'm with my friends, I would have said yes. Did I not share my real opinion because I was fearful of being judged or looking stupid because he's so damn powerful and smart, you know, was that, did I just apologize for something that I don't know. I didn't do anything wrong. Did I just apologize? Wendy:33:22Did I just take responsibility for something that I was not responsible for. So these are traps and these probably have answers in that story, in that script, in the background. Why? Why would I do that? This is not about blaming oneself. This is about appreciating that this is how it works in our personal narrative. And when you're with a narcissist, everything kind of comes to the forefront, but we don't even know it. And you have to look upon reflection. And if you're lucky, you'll catch it in the moment with practice. But you look and you say, I don't who it was that in that moment. And that's what I did when I started working with them. People say, how could you work with narcissists? So because I was so intrigued by myself and how I was just shifting into this like little knee of once upon a time, giving in to demands, taking responsibility where it wasn't mine, apologizing, ignoring things that should have been held accountable. And I thought, who is that? Well that's little me. You know, and she's not bad, but you know, she's struggling to survive in her world. In her once upon a time. Amee:34:31Well, those are, and that's a, those are good questions because what was coming to my mind was, is that you don't really necessarily to start off, need to know what your script is or your Schema that's in your brain, but you will have that gut feel, right? When you are asking yourself those questions, you'll go, yeah, okay, so I don't know why it's there, but the fact that there's this, there is a difference between how I feel like I want to answer and what I think I need to answer. And that's where the story begins, right? That's where you start to unravel that. That's powerful. And that's a, that's a good thing I think for people to maybe click in on if they don't because it takes time to figure out your story. It takes devotion to doing it. It takes hard work to do it. It's not easy to just, you know, the story doesn't just print out on your printer and there you go and you run with it. You have to really, you know, be dedicated to it too to want it. And some people don't want to go that deeply, but people do need, I think at least that first step to be able to get out of a situation or recognize that they're in the presence of a situation that might be unhealthy and unsustainable. Yeah. Wendy:35:33And recognize that we all carry within us, you know, the experiences of earlier in our lives, whether it was last week, last year, or 30 years ago or 50 years ago. These are experiences that are alive inside of us. They're part of our neural network literally in our brain. And it's the same as you know, hearing an old song on the radio that you haven't heard in 20 years and you can feel your whole body changing and you can smell things suddenly from that spring when you first heard the song and you're feeling touched in your heart because it was your first love. You know, we have the capacity to experience without even recognizing what the stimulus might be. But with narcissism, you know, if you know that you're susceptible at least because you've been through it before, you'll have some ways of knowing you. Knowing that there is a part of you, just a part of all of you but a part of you in there that will be susceptible to changing your tune, changing your color when you were in their presence. And that's what we want to be on the lookout for. Amee:36:40Yeah. Yeah. Like I said, for me it's hearing certain words, feeling the, the tightness in the chest and with the last kind of experience that I had, which was just a, you know, in the last few months, um, I, I caught myself, like you said, asking myself questions and then it's taking the first step, which was the old step, which is why I'm not gonna say anything or I'm going to keep it to myself. And then as it, as I was recognizing like, okay, no, you're seeing red flags again, like your, what your body is detecting and what your mind is putting together as at this, this is a, another version of the same thing. This person's, you know, in there, did I attract it? No. I had to ask myself like, did I reach out and draw back into me? I might have. And why and what was it about this or what am I going to do about it? Amee:37:24But at the same time, because I have my Hashtag is therapy works, um, you know, I was able to again, start to pull back and kind of put a barrier in there, like a buffer zone for myself going, okay, you need to now be a witness to what's going on. Don't get let yourself kind of get, you know, emotionally drawn in. And one of the other emotional pieces was this tendency to, once I recognized and identified them as the enemy, wanting to fight the enemy, like this whole sense of justice. And I've had this conversation with other people that work in the realm of narcissism. Like I'm the sense of justice person. My life has been like, if I see it, I need to fight against it. And I had to stop that because I also recognize that narcissist love to fight. So I'm depending on the, or the one you get themselves into. That's what they really want is they want to bait that engagement. And in this whatever engagement they're getting, good or bad or indifferent, as long as it's energy that it doesn't matter. And it was like, well, I don't just Wendy:38:16on that point because it's such an important point that you're raising, keep in mind, because again, the more you know, the more you understand about narcissism, how they're put together, why they do what they do, which is the big question that gets asked all the time. But why did they do what they do? Um, they love the challenge because their whole worth and value is defined by winning, by being right, by getting it right. So they're good, they're clever. And they'll usually find ways that even if it's just to like wear you down, they will do it so that they can come out on top and whether it's threatening you in the end, so you'll give up your fight or it's just coming up with some clever quip or even whether it's true or not, they will do it because competition challenges Winnie, it's stimulating for them, incredibly stimulating for them. Wendy:39:07And they need that because they aren't very good at connecting at an intimate level. And so we have to be careful again, not to get into that tangle of just getting angry and fighting and debating and arguing. Um, because it's exhausting. It's tedious. It's such a burden to carry as opposed to just telling your truth and walking away if you have to and not getting caught in it. And many women as you, you brought up this other point just now me about, you know, is it me, you know, kind of asking yourself the question, am I attracting them? It's like when women ask me, did I cause the betrayal? Did I cause the cheating to happen because I was so turned off and just not so available? I mean, I've been depressed in this relationship and I'll say, well, no, because there were other options. Wendy:40:00You know, narcissist will feel quick to feel entitled, to betray, to have what they want when they want it. They seek out stimulation. It's not uncommon for, not all of them, but certainly many of them to be in that pool of the hypersexual types. And they will create the trail of trauma leaving you feeling terribly unprotected. But so many partners will ask themselves the question that they've been told by their narcissistic partner, it's your fault. You know, you led me to it and my answer when I have the chance to be in the company of the narcissist in the treatment room is it had no other choice. There was no other option. There's nothing else you could do with the discontent. This was the only the only pill you could take. You must be fine in the therapy room and learn how to work with them. Amee:40:51Well, I'll go back to, um, I'll go back also to the, uh, I agree with all of that, like, and I, and that was the, the bs that I called out. Like, no, there were other choices to be made here. And I know that I, you know, I wasn't, I, it gets hard to be told. You are the reason and the blame just as in it's emotionally wearing. Even if you know you're not, it's still emotionally wearing to have that message delivered to you and knowing that you can't change their mind. Right? So, um, when I, what I did and what I had to do in this last go around was I had to reflect back to, okay, you found yourself in the cross hairs. You know, I didn't and I didn't just accidentally walk in front of them. And so this is what I want to clarify, but I did, I did sit there and go, why did you point yourself in that direction? Amee:41:40What was the pieces of this person? And you need to ask yourself the wise about that choice because then it, because then that was that self reflection for me of like, okay, you still seem to think this is important or this is important or this is important. And guess what, every time you've made those three choices, let's just make them three. You thought these three things were important. It's equaled this person that you already now know is an abusive narcissistic. You know, this is a toxic relationship. So let's talk about amine internally. What are those three things and are they really important or are they the pieces of you, the little 13 year old riding in the bottom of her diary that she's going to show the world and you think this, that this individual is a vehicle for you to be able to show? Amee:42:21Cause I recognize too my experience too that I behaved narcissistically yeah. I mean, uh, I had a very ego driven, self centered attitude that I took out of necessity of being able to, um, you know, I believe feeling completely unseen and so seeking out not only my own experiences but people that could help me achieve that ability to be seen. And, and that was a hard one for me to hatch to, to come to was to admit that at times I behaved also narcissistically. And I know that there's, um, you know, there's language about like when anybody's in conflict, we all tend to get very self centered because its preservation, right? It's a, it's an active preservation. And so that leads me into these, um, when you have these maladaptive schemas in your head, that being around narcissists don't just hurt us and our relationship with them, but because of the triggering that they can do to us, it can set us up to be in positions where we're behaving because we're used to having to deal with them that we might be inflicting some wounds to ourselves or the people around us that have nothing to do with them being narcissist. Amee:43:28And for example, um, my, my mode of getting into defense mode and defending myself against everybody and not being able to sometimes tone back and go, listen, you're not fighting right now. Like, get out of fight mode right now. So what are some of the other ways in which we can hurt ourselves with others because of the narcissistic abuse? Are the dynamics that we've kind of been, you know, somewhat. Wendy:43:49Yeah. Again, that's it. It's a very important question and it certainly does tend to be something that most people will struggle with. Whether you're in the relationship currently, you've broken free from the relationship that you're not quite on solid ground yet with yourself. You're at risk for being defensive, as you said, for misreading. You know, not always, but in your most, um, let's say meaningful relationships with other people that it's easy to misread the tea leaves. You can start to see people as being rejecting or you can perhaps go too quickly into the overgiving mode. You know, again, where we call that self sacrifice or subjugation, you give up your rights to recently you find yourself even with people who are not narcissistic, but just constantly giving and then feeling resentful because there's nothing leftover for you. And that becomes a pattern that is recognizable, which can come out of being in relationship with narcissists which may be anchored to early experiences that were similar even if not exactly the same. So we're at risk for trying to prove ourselves too much, for giving up too much for denying ourselves our rights, for defending our positions to even avoidance, just pure total avoidance, which leaves many a person alienated and isolated because they're fearful of being taken advantage of being manipulated, being used by someone else. Amee:45:19Yeah, I know for me, just, you know, sharing this is when I was in the midst of kind of like the, the downward spiral of the relationship. I was also working, um, in a, in a company and I was actually, um, I was the general manager and the strain of the personal relationship at home had gotten me where I was like on a constant state of cortisol fight mode, you know, from that, that it did affect me at work. And I actually, um, after the fact, after kind of like, you know, separating from the relationship and spending some time reflecting on it, you know, I actually reached back out to the owner of the company because we had had a couple of, they're not altercations, but we'd had some missed opportunities of seeing eye to eye where I know I took that very strong bull headed, you know, position on myself because I just was butting my head up into every wall around me. Amee:46:11And so it carried with me into the word and it affected that, that relationship. And I went back to that gentleman. He was a bull headed guy, but he wasn't a narcissistic guy. He wasn't my enemy. But I did have the few moments that I'm not proud of that I, you know, I just in the, in the kind of the fury and I'm not, you know, blaming myself for feeling shame for myself. But I had did a minute said, man, it's not a good headspace. I made some choices. I wish that I hadn't, I can't take him back. And he was so gracious. You know, he and I were able to reestablish like a positive contact after that. Yeah. But, um, I believed at some point that everybody was the enemy around me because I was just so sick of it. And the other thing that I found myself getting into, and I want to share this with people because it's not one of my proudest things, but again, it was just in order to get people to understand what I was dealing with, I ended up just talking to everybody about it and um, and not, and, and trying to, if I couldn't change his mind in his direction, then I started to worry about changing everybody else around him. Amee:47:12And it's that, it's that unseemly, manipulative piece that, um, again, I felt like I was at an in a desperate place and I wasn't, I wasn't happy that that was a choice that I made. And I fully admit that it was just like, it was ugly for me to do that. That, and I can only imagine how people felt having to listen to me bitch about this all the time. You know, Wendy:47:31it goes back to that idea that you brought up about self preservation. We look for ways to preserve our identity, our ego or our sense of okayness and accessibility. It's all about acceptance and being able to connect. And I think it was a really beautiful example and a courageous one of going back and speaking with this man. You know, there's many, there are so many women I've worked with over the years who have been partnered with narcissists and met some for many, many, many years. Who will say, you know, I guess I'm the crazy one. You know, when I ran a support group, there were some women who were in the relationships for 30 years in some of who were in relationships for two years. And those that were in the longterm relationships really felt, you know, what is wrong with me? Um, because we have to ask the question of what allows this to endure. Wendy:48:24There's two questions. How do I get attracted to someone who's narcissistic, which we just talked about, but also why do I stay once I see it? And if you can get the blame game out of this and not see it as this is about beating yourself up, but really trying to understand what am I fearing, what is it that would have me either grief stricken or traumatized or feeling bad about myself or could be failure? It could be. So in other words, scheme is, can play a role in keeping us there because the alternative is just so untenable. But so can pragmatics. Like women who said to me, I can't leave. I have children who, you know, he would drive without seat belts because he doesn't believe in them. He would drive intoxicated because he believes he's above the law. So many who have stayed on longer in these relationships, not so much because they can't find themselves. Wendy:49:23So because they're protecting their children the best way they can. So I guess the moral of the story here is we can't jump to conclusions about anyone. You know, there's, there are certain patterns and themes that are predictable about why we would be attracted to these types of individuals. Why narcissists have this kind of glow, this aura about them that pulls us in and anyone can fall prey to that. Anyone, the most intelligent, sophisticated, accomplished, successful women will be drawn to the narcissist. So it's not being stupid or being undereducated. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with stuff that lies deep within us and the lure, which is sometimes irresistible because they can be incredible in the courtship phase. So we just have to constantly watch for, if you feel like you're getting, as you described so well, the somatic, you know the body's sensations, the experienced, the hairs are standing up on your neck, you're a little twingy, you're not quite answering the questions way you typically would. Amee:50:28You feel yourself not being authentic, then it's time to step back and examine that a little bit. Cause some other part is driving the bus. There's some other part of you that's driving the bus here and it could be driving into a train wreck, you know, or a bus wreck in this case. And so it's just, you know, really watching the signs, eliminating the blame, understanding as much as you can because that's the path to liberation. The more you understand about narcissism alongside the, I think in the more you understand about narcissism, the word you begin to understand about yourself and the more you understand about yourself, the sturdier you can be in the face of it. When you're faced with challenging decisions and you just, I mean that just beautifully summarized exactly this, the, the transformative effect that you know, that happened was, and, and I mean you just kind of like, that's my last year of, you know, seeking to understand and recognizing the relationships I was in, the quality of it on my loan life, seeing then understanding how did I get into these places here, not again from the whole woe is me, but from the, the fact of, you know, how does the brain come together? Amee:51:38What was going on? What were those experiences? Because a lot of people do sit there and say, our memories in our past have nothing to do with today. And in some cases they can be neutral. To what we do today, but as long as they're still painful and wounding and um, and, and again have a, a negative or even positive effect on your body, then they're still influencing what we're doing today and understanding which one of those are the sort of, the triggers is powerful. And I, and I kind of joked with a friend of mine about the, the recent experience of, I felt like it was a universe lobbying the test back going, okay. I mean you just spent some time here, like you've invested in yourself, you've been doing some work on you, you've been a flipping all the dip switches in the brain to the right locations. Amee:52:20Um, here it is. Let's see, let's like the test, right? Here's your final. And it was, and I passed and I was just like, oh my gosh. Like, okay. Again, you, because that was in my life, you know, my, my recurrent theme, that self sabotage was that dynamic. Was that personal dynamic either professionally or personally? It was always, you know, it was going back into, on that bus that was going to drive off of the cliff. It would just be like, well, I can either jump off the bus and find a new bus, but I was going to keep jumping in that bus until I did this. And it limited me not only just in terms of my emotional quality, um, my personal relationships with people. It affected me. Obviously it was mom and a mother to my children. But it was also the limiting factor. Amee:53:00Like I, you know, I related with my experience with that job. It was what was going to hold me back professionally. I was never going to be what I always wanted to do. And B, because I was going to keep cycling in self sabotaging. So, um, and you, you lined out what was my next question is what were some ways people could start and you, you did that, you kind of got into it. So I'd like for people to understand now, Wendy, how do they find you and the book and the other work that you do for people that are recovering through this? And what resources do you have for folks? Wendy:53:28There's, there's several resources on my website which is they can find me through the website. That's why my contact details are all there. My, my phone number and my email as well. And um, and if they, if they do have a narcissist in their life who might be open to reading the book, My book tends to be more digestible then many as you have probably found it because you've done your homework and a lot of research, most of the literature out there is get away. They are Satan, they are demons, they are devils. They can't be fixed. And you know, look, in a lot of cases it's true. You won't get a fix, you won't get a cure. You might get, you might be able to have some kind of influence over certain patterns in the relationship, but to really get that kind of transformative, enduring, lasting change, your narcissist has to come to therapy. And whether or not you can commandeer that or not, it depends on the leverage you might have. But the book sometimes opens that door a little bit because it's not, it's not so harsh. It's more meant to explore and understand the makeup of both ourselves as well as the narcissist themselves. So that's the best way to find me for some additional information. Amee:54:50Awesome. Well, I know the challenge too is that the word narcissist is a very, um, very polarizing word and because I think that blend of pop psychology and also the, um, the fact that the injury so many people have had at the hands of people that are narcissistic and it's hard to not. And so I, you know, I know in my own personal experience, that's not a label you can apply to somebody and not expect, especially if they are or, or anybody, I mean, call anybody a narcissist. And that's probably one of the most insulting characteristics that you can do. So this is a challenging, challenging, yes. You know, scratching my head dynamic to deal with the book too, while we talked about this a lot is personal relationships. I will say that some of us, regardless of how well and how healthy our personal relationships are, depending on what you do in life and in business, you're probably gonna run into them in business. And so this is a valuable guide for that because they may, you know, it is possible that narcissist will be unavoidable and then, and in the business world, that's likely going to be the case. And so that's a, it's, it's fantastic for that. Wendy:55:54Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that. And I, and I just want to say that I'm, I really appreciate your courage to be so open as I'm sure your listeners too, because I know a lot of people who host these types of podcasts don't share so much of their own experience and I think that's really impactful and helpful. So I feel very privileged as I'm sure they do, to be able to know you and to know what you've been through and to know how you got yourself to the other side. So, so thanks for sharing that. Amee:56:27Thank you, Wendy. I appreciate you saying that. Um, again, I just, um, I can't say this enough. This was, this is, uh, it's an honor to be able to meet you and look you in the eye and tell you thank you for what you did in the book that you wrote. Um, like I said, I, I've read Amee:56:41lots of books, I've talked with lots of people, but the, to me, the first step was the most important step that I took and it came because of you. And so thank you very much for that. Amee:56:51Thank you for listening to One Broken Mom. You can find podcast notes on my website, and there I'll provide all links to all of the resources that we mentioned on the episode. Also, if you have any questions, comments, or ideas for other episodes, feel free to send me an email. And if you are interested in sponsoring the show, I'd love to have you be a part of the team. Finally, if you like what you hear, please share the podcast and leave a review so that others can find it. We're all here to get better together. I am the host Amee Quiriconi. And as always, I am super grateful to have you as a listener and till next time, have a great day.


bottom of page