Knowing the Narcissist : Shifting Sands : The Futility of Trying to Control a Narcissist
You feel like you are trying to deal with an opponent that always seems to be one step ahead. It is like trying to tie down a vapour or stop the tide from advancing and engulfing your sand castle. No matter what you do, we always seem to have a way of squirming free, walking away and carrying on as normal. It is like trying to fight a battle with a rusty and nicked sword and one hand tied behind your back. It is akin to those dreams where you try to run but find you cannot move. You try to scream but no sound come from your throat. Every move you make appears to have been anticipated. You play a full house in poker and I produce a royal flush but where did that extra king appear from? I always have something up my sleeve. You are chasing the end of the rainbow but it always keeps shifting, just a little bit further away. You are getting nearer, closing on your goal and then it moves again. You think you have mastered the rules and then we introduce a new one which suits our purposes.
Last week we complimented the steak pie that you made. Our praise was effusive and it was a delightful hiatus in the otherwise unpleasant treatment you had been receiving. You decide to play this winning hand again and proudly place it in the centre of the table only to be met with a sigh and a roll of the eyes.
“What’s the matter? You loved the steak pie I made last week.”
“I don’t want to eat steak pie.”
“Why what’s wrong?”
“Why must there always be something wrong. I do not want steak pie.”
“But you did last week?”
“That was then and this is now.”
Cue scathing put downs and storming from the table leaving you bewildered and upset. You don’t make steak pie again only to be scolded the following week.
“What’s happened to the steak pie? Why have you stopped making it when you know that it is my favourite?”
You dress up to the nines and you are called slutty. You dress down and you are upbraided for not putting the effort in. You try to cuddle us in the night and an elbow is jabbed into your chest because you are making us too hot. Two hours later we wake you up and ask you why you stopped hugging us. We tell you that we will be in by seven and then appear at nine. You are forbidden from questioning us about this. You are not entitled to do so. We do as we please. You buy an expensive gift for our birthday and you are told that it is not as good as last year. The following year you really push the boat out to be told you have spent too much and we just wanted something simple. You re-decorate and select a rich chocolate brown. We declare it to be the wrong shade and point to a colour that looks no different. We will not let the matter rest until you have changed it. Once applied it appears the same. We declare we want to go out for dinner and you get ready only for us to decide we would rather stay in and watch sport.
Whatever you do it is always wrong, never correct, not good enough and an erroneous choice. No matter how many times you ask what we want, you still make the wrong choice. You suggest that we do it ourselves and you are accused of not caring. You confirm you will deal with it and you are a control freak who will not allow us to breathe on our own. Whatever you decide to do or say we will find a way of twisting it around so it suits us. Our logic seems entirely warped to you but to us it makes perfect sense because the only logic we adhere is that which means whatever we say is right, even when we show rank hypocrisy or we contradict ourselves. We can reason away every contradiction you point out to us and if you somehow back us into a corner then we will just accuse you of badgering us, change the subject or walk away. In our minds we win every single time.
We cast you aside telling you that you have let yourself go and we cannot be with you. You see us the next week and we are with someone less attractive than you, carrying more weight and who holds down a job less prestigious that yours. You cannot comprehend why we let you go and chose her instead, especially after what we said. You stare open-mouthed and scratch your head. To us we win again because we have acquired someone new whose fuel is better than anything you have ever provided and in addition we have got to you, so you pour out the negative fuel. If we had suddenly appeared with a supermodel instead you might talk a small degree of comfort in thinking that you could not compete with this person but do not let that think you have secured some kind of small victory. In our minds this just reaffirms that we were right to leave you and trade up.
You catch us in bed with someone else. It is not our fault. If you loved us properly we would not have to stray. You show us complete love and devotion and nobody could ever accuse you of selling us short in the bedroom. We accuse you of having too high a sex drive because you must be getting it elsewhere. If you apply reason and logic, especially towards one of our lesser brethren, then they will ignore the force of your words and instead accuse you of trying to belittle and bamboozle them with long words plucked from the dictionary and why do you always have to patronise them with such words and sentences. Whatever you choose, whatever you decide, whatever you do it will always be wrong and whatever we do will always be right. Accuse us as much as you like for being twisted, illogical and difficult and we will be in your face pointing out how you always have to try and get one over us. Black becomes white and then becomes yellow. Nothing makes sense with us but that is because it makes complete sense to us. Our approach is to gather fuel and that means we can and must do so through any means even if that does not stack up when looked at from your point of view. This warped and stretched approach allows us to achieve our aims, we confuse and bewilder you, we upset and anger you, we control you and each and every time we know that we have succeeded. Like the most deluded Minister of Propaganda we claim to have defeated you even as your tanks roll past us in the background. We see only what we want to see and we are impervious to all of your reason. We will never accept what you tell us because that does not accord with what we set out to achieve and what we must achieve. Of course this will not stop you trying. You try to defeat us as we replace your arrows with celery sticks and your sword with a stale baguette. We never fight fair. Your frustration, annoyance and inability to comprehend why we do this is what keeps you bound to us and allows us to keep on doing what we must keep on doing. Extracting fuel.
So, go ahead, build that tower, build it high with the stones that adhere to your beliefs and principles, from stone that is beautifully cut and polished, that anybody would admire and cherish, but let us see how you build that tower was the sands beneath constantly shift and alter. This is what it is to be entangled with us.
9 thoughts on “Knowing the Narcissist : Shifting Sands : The Futility of Trying to Control a Narcissist”
HG says: “So, go ahead, build that tower, build it high with the stones that adhere to your beliefs and principles, from stone that is beautifully cut and polished, that anybody would admire and cherish, but let us see how you build that tower was the sands beneath constantly shift and alter. This is what it is to be entangled with us.”
I say: Let that sink in.
TBS – depending on the changing subsoil, we can always improve the building material 🙂 And even if the tower collapses – build it anew in the new technology 🙂
The shifting sands has only recently begun to be better understood by me. Several times it has come to mind, times when it happened in the past or is currently happening in some way. My mother is very good at it actually, had not realized how good previously.
Interesting, A Victor
I’m usually very forgiving of people not being rigorously consistent in their words, but I realize more and more that I should be more judgemental, since many narcissists use this overlooking liberal welcoming to start operating with shifting sands, “ah, she can easily be controlled like that”.
Thought I had replied to you, maybe it didn’t go through, maybe not posted yet, I hope two don’t show up.
Yes, you said it exactly, I’ve been way too forgiving also and not willing to judge, to my own detriment. As soon as I see shifting sand starting, I need to see that as a red flag and be very watchful for other signs of narcissism, instead of brushing it under the rug and assuming the best about the person. Good point, thank you. This is very difficult for me but very necessary, sometimes another person bringing it up, as you have here, helps and gives a sort of permission to change my thinking. I know, it is sad to need permission at my age but sometimes it is helpful nonetheless. Good job, by the way, doing this also, it is not always easy.
Thanks, AV, I appreciate it. Yes, I have also often felt good about validation from other ppl, sometimes it is called for, yes, many times not.
About the nonjudgemental thing, especially when someone has a stressful or physically hard, work, I have thought not to demand very rigorous consistency.
Also in religion when ppl found lots of contradiction in the Bible, I thought “Well Jesus worked hard as a carpenter, speaking to ppl’s hearts rather than saying perfect words”
You see how religion/politics, used by adults around me, with this reasoning helped me excuse toxic behaviours?
But I guess the ULTIMATE reason for me accepting shifting sands, is the emotional abuse from the NPD parent when growing up.
Wears us out.
Oh yes, you said it AC, very wearing.
.. blerghhh .. 😡
“We see only what we want to see and we are impervious to all of your reason. We will never accept what you tell us because that does not accord with what we set out to achieve and what we must achieve. Of course this will not stop you trying. You try to defeat us as we replace your arrows with celery sticks and your sword with a stale baguette. We never fight fair.”
As we speak, I am in the midst of this resurrected saga .. which would not be anywhere near as emotionally charged if it were not for the impact on the others impacted, who are less inclined (nor should they be) to comprehend the narcissist’s dynamic.