Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Narcissist and His Addictions: My Father's Gambling and His Other Compulsive Behaviors

As I've shared in past entries, my father is a gambling addict.  He started gambling in his early 30's, when a casino was built in our state, in the early 90's.  He ended up visiting that casino for the first time when one of his cousins suggested that they go there to have a fun night out together.  Well, that was the beginning of a very long journey into addiction for my father. 

After that first visit to the casino, my father became a regular patron there.  At first, he only went on the weekends.  Then he started going several week nights.  And then he was there throughout the week, spending days at a time, without bothering to come home.  From that point on, it just got worse.  My father would spend months away gambling in different states.  He would infrequently call home to check on the family, which also served to let us know that he was still alive, otherwise anything could have happened to him, and we would have been completely clueless about what had happened.  When he did come home, he and my mother would argue, and my mother would tell him off about his problems and how she didn't appreciate what he was doing to the family and how much money he had essentially thrown away. 

By 1997, my father went from coming home infrequently to simply not coming home at all.  He didn't contribute financially and my mother barely made enough to pay the mortgage, other household bills, and support three kids on her own.  It was only a matter of time before she had to sell the house and the four of us moved into an apartment in another town.  While all of this was going on, I don't think that my father knew about any of the circumstances that we were experiencing and any of the decisions that my mother had made.  Even if he did know, he was in no position to do anything to help the situation.

By mid 1998, my family had established a life that did NOT include my father.  He was like a ghost, someone that we talked about from time to time but didn't expect to hear from very often or see anytime soon.  My mother decided to divorce him since she didn't want to tolerate his behavior any longer and wanted to move on with her own life.  Since she didn't know where to locate him, she was able to get a divorce without him being present.  The only time we really heard about him was when one of my paternal relatives told us that he had called them and asked about us.  Out of all of his siblings, my father had one brother in particular with whom he was close, so whenever he wanted to contact family, he would call this brother in order to find out about how everyone was doing.  I only saw my father once in 1998.  It was a very unexpected reunion.  My uncle (the brother with whom my father was close) had persuaded my father to come back to the state in which we all live.  He told my father that he could stay with him and his family for a while and think about what he wanted to do for the long haul, instead of wasting more time and money at the casinos. Once my father got to my uncle's place, my uncle drove him over to my family's apartment so that he could visit. It was during this visit that he saw where we lived and also found out about the divorce. My father only spent a couple of weeks at my uncle's place before leaving to go back to the casinos.  I think that he and my uncle had an argument or he just didn't want to stay there any longer, but either way, the arrangement was short-lived. That visit was the last time that I saw my father in person, until the trip I took to see him in "05".

Once I started to identify my father as a narcissist, doing so changed my view of his gambling addiction. I now see his addiction as a symptom of his narcissism.  Doing so makes a lot of sense in my opinion, because aside from his gambling addiction, there are other behaviors that he engages in or used to engage in compulsively.  Thinking back to my early and late childhood, I knew that my father placed great importance on his appearance.  One of the ways in which he maintained his appearance was to brush his teeth frequently during the day. It got to the point where a dentist actually advised him that he had to start brushing his teeth differently because his way of brushing was doing damage to his gum line. Aside from his obsession with his dental hygiene, he also made sure to take long baths and showers. When it came to his attire, my father spent a lot of money on clothing and footwear. Before changing into day-wear, he heavily starched and ironed his clothes. If my family had planned an outing, we had to wait until he had performed these rituals, before we left the house. My father also emphasized that I and my sister and brother should take pride in our appearance, but his main focus was on how he looked.

As difficult as it is to get an addict to recognize that he or she has a problem, getting a narcissistic addict to recognize their problem or problems is an even tougher feat.  I never once heard my father say that he had any problems, and I don't think that he saw himself as having any problems.  He doesn't see himself as an addict or in need of changing any of his behavioral patterns.  One of my aunts is a licensed social worker and offered to help my father to get into a program.  In order to do that, he would have to come back to our state and meet her so that they could talk and work on a plan of action for him.  He didn't want to do any of that.  The only thing he wanted to do was to come back to our state so that he could stay with my aunt for a little while in order to get his bearings and reacquaint himself with the area.  My aunt didn't agree to this because she said that he needed to get help and the only way to do that was to go through a program and get himself together.  My father is the type of person who would "hit rock bottom" and just keep falling because of his refusal to acknowledge any of his problems and flaws in order to better himself.

The irony about my father's refusal to recognize any of his self destructive behavioral patterns is that he likes to read books from authors such as Deepak Chopra.  During his visit in 98, he kept taking about Chopra, and we even went to the library so that he could look for some of his books.  He wouldn't have a problem watching the self-help gurus on television, either. He would be the first one to sit back and watch an hour long self-help special, but then NOT apply any of the principles to his own life, while regurgitating everything that the person had said during the program, to any willing or not so willing listeners.  Basically, he's a bunch of talk but no action or follow through.

While there are some addicts who finally do admit that they need help and do things to change their lives, I view my father as one of those people who hits rock bottom and just keeps falling because he is incapable of change.  His narcissism is the condition and his compulsive, recidivist behaviors are the manifestations of that condition.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

On Feeling Humiliated By My Father...And Putting the Situation Into Perspective.

In my entry, Decision to Go No Contact With My Father, I shared comments that I had originally posted over on Caliban's Sisters, that kind of gives a brief timeline/description of events leading up to my no contact decision.  In those comments, I shared a story about visiting my father in "05" in a city in which he was staying so that he could gamble, and how a couple of incidences that happened there permanently changed my view of him.  In this entry, I am going to share another incident that happened during that visit.  It was an incident that left me feeling humiliated but also provided yet another lesson on a narcissistic parent's inability to genuinely empathize with his child.

For the visit, I and my half-sister spent a little less than a day with my father before heading back home.  On the morning of our departure, my father and one of his high roller gambling acquaintances decided that we should all have breakfast at one of the restaurants at the casino...on the high roller's dime of course.  My sister and I had also brought a little money with us for the trip, but my father had promised, while we were still planning to visit him, that my sister and I wouldn't have to worry about anything and that he would make sure that we were all set with a hotel room and meals, once we arrived.  Once we actually got there and he greeted us,  we realized how hollow his words had been.  My father barely had a penny to his name, and of course, he wasn't able to rent a hotel/motel room for us.  He told us that he figured that we could just spend the whole day walking around and seeing the sights.  I wasn't really surprised about this change in plans because when my father originally told me that he planned on taking care of our expenses for the trip, I wanted to believe him, but I knew that he most likely wouldn't be able to keep his word.  My sister and I knew that between the two of us, we also didn't have enough money to pay for a room and that we only had enough to pay for a few meals. We had no choice but to get back on to one of the Greyhound buses to go back home or hang in there and make the most of the visit.  Against our better judgment, we decided to go along with our father.

So the morning of our departure, while eating breakfast at the restaurant, my father's high roller acquaintance and I conversed for a little while. From the little I knew about him, he didn't seem like a bad guy, and I had to wonder why he even socialized with my dad since they seemed to be complete opposites.  Anyway, during our chat, he asked me about college, my grades and what my plans were after graduating.  When I told him that I was doing good in college and that my grades typically ranged from high As to Bs, my father who had been watching us and listening to the conversation, interrupted and started questioning me about my grades.  He basically told me that I should be getting all As and that there was no reason to get any lower than that. I can't remember much of what else he said, but I do know that the gist of his rant was to express disappointment in what he saw as a lack of academic effort on my part.  When he was finished, his friend looked at me not really knowing what to say.  I just smiled and acted like it wasn't a big deal, but I was definitely angry about my father's behavior. That wasn't the only time that he had done that. Before that incident, there were times in the past, when he was still involved in my life, that he would question me about my grades and make me feel like I wasn't trying my best.  If I brought home an A- on a quiz/test or homework, he would question me about why I didn't get an A+ instead. I could understand if he was disappointed that I got a C or lower, but he was never satisfied with anything less than me getting the highest marks.  After my father's rant, I felt really low as I continued to eat my breakfast.  I didn't say much for the rest of the meal, but I did look at him from time to time, feeling completely disgusted by his audacity.

After reflecting on my father's behavior, after breakfast, I realized that there was no reason for me to feel humiliated and worthless.  This was a guy who had made bad decision after bad decision in his life.  He had done everything to sabotage himself and had reduced himself to not even having enough money to buy his children a decent breakfast, yet he had the nerve to berate me over grades for which many others would have expressed just the opposite.  Most other people who knew the importance of giving credit and acknowledging effort would have said things like "good job" and "keep up the good work". Given his sorry state, my father should have been the last one to ever criticize my efforts.

On Why My Father is a Narcissist - Part 1

In my last entry, I shared a basic timeline of events that led up to my eventual estrangement from my N father.  This entry is much more of a reflection post on why I believe that my dad is an N. I don't know a lot about my father's side of the family, aside from the N paternal relatives with whom I am estranged.  However, from the bits and pieces of information that I acquired from listening to family conversations and gossip over the years, I came to the conclusion that my father did not have many positive role models when he was growing up.  He was mostly raised by his maternal grandmother in Jamaica, after his mother decided to go to England and make a life there for herself while my father was very young.  He did see his father from time to time, but his formative years were spent in his grandmother's care. When he reached his late teens, he spent more time with his father because his father was a prominent business person in the community, and my father became an employee at that business, once he graduated from high school. I strongly believe that my paternal grandfather is a Narcissist whose actions modeled to my father that it was ok to have a lack of responsibility to family, and that it was ok to womanize without facing any consequences for that type of behavior.  I am not going to blame my grandfather for my father's actions, however, I do believe that positive parental role modeling is important to children and influences their values, morals, and decision making. I am going to discuss my grandfather's behavior and how my father's behavior has been similar.  I am not going to talk much if at all about my father's mother because she was not in the picture for the most part.  I have never met her and I don't know anything about her as a person.

While I don't know much about my grandfather's past in Jamaica, I do know that he engaged in a promiscuous lifestyle and did not value having steady, committed relationships with women. To my knowledge, the only woman with whom he had a long term relationship and then married is my narcissistic step-grandmother.  With those other women, my grandfather had at least three children.  He and my step-grandmother also had five kids.  He also had several affairs early in the marriage, and produced at least one more kid from one of those affairs.  To my knowledge, I have at least nine paternal aunts and uncles. Because my grandfather settled down with my step-grandmother, he was an active father to the children they had together, but he did not play a hands-on role or take on much if any responsibility to the kids that he had prior to that marriage or to the child from the affair.  Most of them were raised by their mothers and grandparents.  From my observations, my grandfather never faced the consequences of his irresponsibility to his children and his wife.  What I saw when I was growing up was that most of my aunts and uncles visited my grandfather and step-grandmother and had a desire to stay in contact and be part of the family. But I definitely think that they must have held some resentment and anger toward my grandfather because of his willfully negligent behavior and self absorption.

My father's relationship with women and also with his children has been very similar to that of my grandfather.  My father also engaged in promiscuous behavior.  Before he met my mother, he had a son with a woman whom he was not in a committed relationship.  After meeting my mother - the only woman with whom he has had a long term relationship and married - he still slept around in the early years of their relationship and had at least two more kids.  While he was an active parent to me and my younger full siblings when we were in our early childhoods, he was not an active parent to the kids he had with other women.  I think that he had some knowledge of how my half-sister was doing and a couple of pictures of her. But other than her, I don't believe that he knew very much about the other kids.

When I was in my mid-20's, my mother told me that there was a time when she and my father tried to reach out to his oldest son, because they wanted to offer some support.  The mother and stepfather initially agreed but then decided that they didn't want my father to have contact because it had been a long time and they no longer thought it was a good idea for him to be in their son's life.  After hearing that information, I can't say that I blame the mother and stepfather.  They did what they thought was best and were only looking out for what they felt was the best interest of the child.

Years later, my father had an opportunity to meet one of his other kids, this time it was the daughter that I mentioned above. This was a strange situation because my paternal relatives stuck their noses into a situation for which they should not have gotten involved.  They were always in-the-know about my father's behavior and that he had kids with other women before coming to the US.  Over the years, they made sure to stay at least superficially informed about the welfare of those kids.  There were times when I was a child and then a teenager that they would make comments about them, basically letting me know that they were out there and that it would be nice for me to meet them at some point.  I didn't think much about my half siblings other than to hope that they were doing well.  But I never really had a strong desire to meet any of them.  So when I was 18 years old, it came as a great shock to me that my paternal relatives had gotten in touch with my half-sister's mother and had convinced her to let my half-sister move to the US to live with them.  At first I couldn't believe that they had crossed that boundary, but then I remembered who these people were and how meddlesome they were when they had an agenda.

Once my half-sister was in the US, I got the opportunity to meet her.  By that time, I was not in regular contact with my paternal relatives, but I did sometimes visit with them.  My Aunt Mary (AM) stopped by my apartment along with my half sister and we got to meet each other in a quick visit.  After I met her, my father ended up meeting her when AM took a trip to the city in which my father was staying to gamble.  I thought it was highly inappropriate for my sister to meet our father for the first time, under those circumstances, but I didn't find out about any of this until after it had occurred.  My paternal relatives lack boundaries, are very nosy, and love knowing things about other people, so doing this gave them just another opportunity to get their supply.

Although I was not present when my father and my half-sister met, I heard that my father was very happy and couldn't stop saying "my daughter".   I was neutral about my father getting the chance to meet his daughter, but I was also aware of how he could come across since he lacks boundaries about appropriate behavior and wouldn't even have taken into consideration that he should try to tone down his demeanor. I could see him giving her multiple hugs, kisses on the cheek, and asking her all kinds of questions about her life.  He would have just expected her to completely embrace him and demonstrate as much excitement and energy as he did in that moment.  I really can't picture him having any regard for how she might have felt to meet a parent who had been absent up to that point in her life.  If she had expressed being uncomfortable with the situation, he would have said something like "Uncomfortable, you must be joking.  This is your father", just reaffirming how much he lacks empathy for other people and thinks that he is deserving of a certain type of response from others.  If she had said that he had never been around and that she didn't consider him to be her father, he probably would have been shocked to hear any of that.  His expectations of others and his unwillingness to reflect and take stock of how others might view him negatively or with indifference, would have made him completely clueless as to why his own daughter whom he hadn't seen in fifteen years might not have much respect for him or be thrilled to see him.

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Decision to Go No Contact With My N Father

I've always known that my father had some personality traits and behaviors that were problematic, and that he was quite self-absorbed. But in "08", I realized that the way he viewed himself and others went way past self absorption and that he most likely has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). I made the decision to go no-contact with him in 2008, when he and I got into an argument over the phone and I realized that communication with him was just not worth the toll on my emotional well being.  Since then, I hadn't thought about my father much, until last week, when CS did an entry Something that Still Makes Me Angry, in which she talks about her father's utter lack of regard for how she and her sisters' may have felt to see his Playboy magazines out in the open in their home.  This entry really got me thinking about my own father's narcissism and the ways in which he has shown a clear lack of regard for me, my family, and other people, especially women.  For CS's entry, I left several comments and replies to other commenters, telling the story of my father's behavior.  I am including some of those comments in this entry because although I didn't make a conscious decision to present a time line of events that led up to my no contact decision, my comments ended up doing that to some extent and I wanted to share them here.  Here are my comments:

First comment
I don't think that this even registers with them when they have kids. Being a role model isn't exactly high up on their priority list. If it was, they would do/not do a lot of things. Your entry got me thinking back on some incidences with my father about treating women like objects and his disregard for their feelings and worth as human beings. This would be a very long story, but I'm just going to give the basics of one instance that completely turned me off and made me view him differently. Well, my father is a gambling addict. He's been involved in it for a very long time. It got to the point where he was basically living at the casinos. This is one of the reasons why my mother divorced him. He simply was not around for the most part, and when he was, he expected everybody else to go out of their way to accommodate him and glow in his presence. Anyway, getting to the point. Throughout the years, I barely saw my father but I did have sporadic communication with him via phone calls.

So anyway, back in "05", during spring break of college, I planned a one day trip with my half sister to go and see our father at one of the casinos at which he was staying. So we get there and see him in person. It was weird since i had not seen him in such a long time. The day ended up being a complete disappointment, and some things about his personality were validated to me as I observed his behavior. I recognized that aside from his addiction, he was just a very selfish person, and I couldn't believe it, but I actually found him repulsive on some level. One of the things that occurred during that day that did the damage was when I, my sister, my father, and a couple of his gambling buddies/enablers were in his motel room that he shared with his "girlfriend". While in the room, everyone was just chatting about nothing in particular, when all of a sudden, my father started talking about some of the women with whom he had been earlier in his life. Those women included my mother and my half sister's mother. Well, he talked about them in such a disrespectful manner. I really couldn't believe it. He talked about how had "deflowered" my mother (my mom was a teenager when she initially met my father, and she was very naive, and didn't have much familial support growing up) He then talked about how my half-sister's mother was very pretty and how he should have stayed with her longer than he had (My father did not have a relationship with her, they were basically just friends with benefits, which is how he treated most of the women that he had had a sexual relationship, aside from my mother, with whom he actually had a long term relationship). So anyway, all of us in the room sat around listening to his ramblings. After that, he noticed that I really wasn't thrilled to be there, so he started making comments about that, talking about how "obnoxious" I was, simply because I wasn't going out of my way to smile or look at him with adoration as he acted braggadocious. All that mattered was what he was saying and that he was revelling in his past exploits. My half-sister enabled him by joking around and not taking him seriously, but he could tell that I was highly annoyed by the whole situation so he tried to tell me off. The rest of the day was basically a long series of walking around the casino and watching his temper get out of control a couple of times. By the end of that night, I realized that I had made a bad choice by even deciding to visit him, and that he was pretty much a lost cause. He is devoid of behaviors and traits that could actually sustain long term relationships. I had always noticed little signs from when I was very young, but instances like the one I shared, just solidified things for which I had previously lacked clarity,

Second comment
 CS, I really have to wonder if he is sociopathic. You mentioning that as a possibility actually triggered an incident that happened while my half-sister and I were visiting him. At one point in the visit, I saw him push one of his gambling buddies/enablers because the guy was either saying something that he didn't like, or was walking to slowly for his liking. I can't remember. So he just pushed him out of the way. I was a bit taken back by this action, until I started observing more over the course of the evening and I realized that all of these people in his group were basically his minions. He was a "god" and they were following him around waiting to be noticed. It was really interesting to watch how he got each of them to do things to accommodate him. One guy in the group had a car, so he was the one who drove all of us around. The guy that he pushed was always giving him praise and appeasing him. The "girlfriend" that I mentioned above, was actually providing their income through her extracurricular activities. I didn't know it when I first arrived, but by the end of the day, I had realized that the "girlfriend" was offering services to guys so that they could get money for things and to go back and gamble. Of course my father had no problems with any of this, since his role was that of the parasite, just taking up everyone's resources. And thinking more about this whole dynamic, I realized that that's how my father has often acted over the years. He views other people with subtle disdain. Other people are only good to prop him up or else he doesn't want to deal with them. He doesn't know how to have real relationships, just opportunistic ones.

Third comment
Yep. On the day that I finally decided to end communication with my father back in "08", he and I had gotten into an argument, because he wanted my mother's phone number to contact her. The silliest part about this request is that my parents were about ten years divorced at that point, and he hadn't had any contact with my mother for a long time, because of his moving around from casino to casino and state to state. My mother didn't want any contact with him. So when he asked for her number, I told him that I didn't feel comfortable giving it to him because of their past history and the fact that my mother had gotten on with her life, had remarried, and did not want to communicate with him. Well, he immediately cursed me out and told me off. I told him that talking to him was like talking to a brick wall, that he was narcissistic and an addict, and that I didn't want to communicate with him anymore. Then I hung up the phone on him, and said good riddance. i mean, what else is there to do when someone can't understand anyone else's P-O-V.

I think another reason why they communicate the way they do with other people is because they see life and other people as being "static". On the site, Polly Want a Narcissist?" the author talks about this in one of her entries. They see others as always being the same, never gaining new insight, maturity, development, or moving on with their lives. So the way that they act should be of no consequence since you will always be willing to accept them and their ways and take them into consideration as you did in the past.

Fourth comment
Yep. They really don't care about anything, as long as they are getting obedient sources of supply. I came to this realization about my father, a couple of years before finally cutting contact with him. Before cutting contact in that "08" phone call, he and I had had a severe confrontation in mid "07" on a day when he came to visit me (one of the few visits he and I had had over the years). When I told him things about himself that he didn't want to hear, his immediate reaction was to try to tell me off and put me in my place. At one point, I thought that he might actually hit me. When I was a kid, he didn't have to hear me out because he could just do whatever he wanted and my voice didn't matter. But since he hadn't seen me often over the years, and I was now an adult and was speaking up more to him, that was a problem and he didn't know how to handle it. Ladynyo, you are right about seeing the "development of their narcissism, from lower to highest levels. When I was a child, even though I didn't have the words to describe it, I knew that there were things about my father that were off-putting such as his obsession with image, his annoyance at other peoples individuality, and his boastfulness. But over time and with his addiction, those behaviors and aspects of his personality became even more distorted. He's really a scary being at this point, because of those distorted aspects of himself. In a way, I'm lucky that he wasn't around all that often. His lack of responsibility to family and his mentality that he didn't have any obligations actually prevented him from being an overwhelming force in my life.

Reference List

Caliban's Sisters

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Be Mindful When Interacting with Narcissists

Most of the situations that we are in are due to our own choices.  However, there are also situations in which others will try to force us to choose and if we play along and make a choice, they will use that decision to try to manipulate the situation to their advantage.  Always keep this in mind when dealing with someone who only views relationships as hierarchies and power struggles.  I started to think more about this behavior, after reading the book, Nasty People: How to Stop Being Hurt by Them Without Stooping to Their Level by Jay Carter.  It is an advice book that offers different strategies for how to recognize and constructively deal with people who have nasty attitudes. I started thinking about how Ns who think strategically and aren't very impulsive, are probably more likely to try to force a person's hand by making that person choose and then holding that person responsible for the decision, while the N gets to maintain his or her "innocence" all at the same time. I believe the key to handling a person who uses this tactic is to STOP AND THINK about what is actually going on - be mindful about the situation and what the other person is trying to accomplish. And realize that you don't have to engage narcissists on their terms.

In my last entry, I talked about "S", my former coworker from "07" whom I believe is highly narcissistic.  S didn't play this "Choose" game all the time but there were times when she would use it to try to gain the upper hand.  This was her tactic when she felt an ego threat coming on and she wanted to halt it.  In the example I gave of the conversation that S and I had about the coworker who confronted her about her bossiness, S also told me that while talking to that coworker, S asked her if she would like for the both of them to go to management and talk about the problem.  Well, S told me that the coworker didn't want to do that, since they were already discussing the matter anyway.  S saw this as the "wrong" choice for that coworker to make, telling me that the coworker "chose not to do that" in a contemptuous, self-righteous tone.  S never took any responsibility for being bossy.  Never once while talking to me did S say anything such as "I may have been somewhat bossy to her" or "I didn't agree with her complaint, but I did try to understand her perspective." The only thing that mattered to S was that the coworker had confronted her and chosen not to go to management with the problem.  I didn't realize that this was a tactic on S's part to deny herself of any responsibility whenever confronted, until she tried that same tactic on me a few months later, when I had the same issue with her as this other coworker did.  That's when I realized that the only thing that mattered to S was that she was able to dominate an interaction by either saying very little when being confronted or attacking the other person's choices during/after the confrontation so that she could feel better about herself.  At that point, I didn't have the ability to argue my points skillfully, so when S started in on me, I wasn't able to counter her the way I wanted too and could now.

Narcissists who operate like S look down on other peoples thoughts, feelings, and choices. They also wait and watch for people to make choices that go against their better interests, so that they can then use those decisions to browbeat and psychologically torment the people who have finally seen through their facade. They want people to flub up and continuously make mistakes so that they can devalue them and dominate interactions.

The only thing to do is to NOT play the game the way these Ns want to play it.  When an N gives you an ultimatum or tries to put you into a situation in which you feel like you are forced to make a choice, sometimes the best way to counteract this set up is to NOT make a choice between whatever options the N has offered.  Put the responsibility back on the N to do/not do something instead.   This role reversal may also be done with non-Ns as well, because Ns aren't the only ones who will try this "Choose" tactic to try to turn situations in their favor.  By using role reversal in situations that call for it, Ns and non-Ns who are trying to dominate an interaction are forced to deal with the fact that they are not going to be able to control all interactions and that they also have to take on some of the responsibility for what they do/don't do when engaging with other people.

Narcissists, Empathy and Attention.

Around 2007,  I worked at a retail store, and had what I would say was a very educational experience working with whom I believe to be a narcissistic coworker.  I'll call this former coworker "S".  I worked at the store for about seven months, and during that time, I did get along with S, up until the last month or so of my employment there.  On the surface, S was extroverted and outgoing and always had a smile ready for others. If she was in the break room and another coworker came in, S would mostly be the one to initiate conversation.  I noticed that she got along with most of the floor employees, and also managerial staff.  Having said all of that, I had an inkling that S was a covert bully who desired control and attention.  I realized that her love of conversation and laughter really meant that she could be at the center of attention, and she wouldn't hesitate to interrupt the conversations of coworkers even though those conversations had nothing to do with her.  She never once thought it was rude to just interrupt.  She also had a habit of inquiring to coworkers about what their conversations had been about and also inquiring about issues that coworkers had with customers. If she noticed that a transaction was taking a long time, immediately after the transaction, she would be the first one to ask "What happened with that customer?" At first, I thought that she was just extremely nosy, which she was, but upon further observation and reflection of her behavior, I realized that she was a purposeful information gatherer and that she had an excellent memory.  I watched her in action with coworkers a few times, and also realized that she was doing the same things to me.  There were times that she would ask me a question pertaining to my work or other matters, and then the next thing I knew, I would overhear her repeating my words back to managerial staff or any coworker who happened to be nearby.  I don't believe that part of her behavior was exactly malicious, but it did show that she lacked boundaries and could not be trusted to keep information (even trivial information) to herself. In addition, S also had a way of being passive aggressive and making subtle remarks about my competence and work ethic. She would make these comments in a tone that would suggest that she was just joking and being friendly,  but I still did not feel comfortable with her comments and digs at my expense because when she engaged in that behavior, I felt undervalued as an employee.

I now recognize S's behavioral tendencies as having to do with a LACK of EMPATHY on her part, because at the time that I worked with her, I also noticed that she was quite firm about protecting her own space and boundaries. She would be the first one to tell someone else NOT to do something as soon as she felt like her threshold of tolerance was crossed.  If she felt bossed around or pressured or that someone was being unnecessarily rude, she wouldn't hesitate to confront; however, if she was engaging in those behaviors toward someone else and was confronted, she would have contempt for the person confronting her.  If not contemptuous, then she would act like she was in the dark and unclear about the problem and that it was the other person's responsibility to clear it up and express their preferences, while she would just stare at the person while they made their case to her.

I didn't put all of this together, until after a few revealing conversations I had with S.  I really believe that Ns end up telling on themselves a lot.  In one conversation, S referred to another coworker as a "bitch" and when I asked why she didn't like that coworker, she explained that that coworker had confronted her for being bossy and also told her "Do not tell me what to do".  The fact that this coworker had told S to butt out, really wounded S's ego, and she couldn't handle it.  In another conversation that S and I had while we were sitting in the break room, S told me that she had once confronted a shift manager in the store manager's office, because she felt like he had been pressuring her to complete tasks in which she thought was an unreasonable time frame. Regarding this same shift manager, S told me that she had once referred to him as a "dog barking" directly to his face.  I couldn't believe that she would have the nerve to say such a thing directly to a shift manager, but she indeed had the nerve and made no apologies for it, either. If I or another coworker had ever dared to make such a disrespectful remark to her, my or their tongues probably would have been cut out of our mouths. Months after those informative conversations and my own observations and feeling of uncomfortableness with S, I began to put two and two together and realized that interactions with S were one sided in her favor.  While she did not have compassion for others, she expected people to understand her perspective and treat her with respect.  Once I realized this,  my dislike for S was firmly established because I saw her as being a consummate taker with no ability to truly give or humble herself in interactions with others, while feeling fully entitled to those pro-social behaviors from others. 

Took a break... Now I'm back

I took a break from blogging, around June of last year.  At that time, I decided not to continue with the blog for a while, because I wasn't sure of what I wanted to discuss in future entries.  Well, now I'm back, and with a new username as well.  I decided to change my name from Introverted_Wanderer to burningcandles because lighting candles and getting into a relaxed state of mind is a therapeutic activity for a lot of people.  I like lighting candles, placing them in various areas of a room, and then settling into my thoughts.  Writing this blog and reading the blogs of others who are dealing with the same or similar issues is also therapeutic for me. I decided to reacquaint myself with my blog after spending some time over on the blog, Caliban's Sisters.  Reading her past entries gave me some inspiration about the kinds of topics I would like to cover.  Thank you for that CS.