Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Betty Chronicles (Part 1)

Why don't you pull up a seat, my dear friends and readers, 'cause I've got a story to tell. (And this shit's so long, I've got to tell it in two parts). You know how you guys are always wondering how it is that I'm so painfully aware of narcissism? Well, the truth is that I consider myself a survivor, not unlike so many of you. Now, I was lucky in that I didn't come from a family of narcissists (and that, in the end, was probably my saving grace) but I certainly have had my share of run-ins with narcs and things never ended up looking very good. Well, for me anyway, though I'm fairly certain the narcs were happy. For the record, I don't have any grand delusions that my plight is anything remotely similar to that of my ACoN friends - I realize that my narc relation-shits were contrived by choice (MY choice) and that ACoNs never had that same choice. At the end of the day, I could pick a new roommate or leave my boyfriend. I know that for my friends here who are writing about their experiences with N siblings and N parents or who are here to read about others like them, it is not nearly that simple. My reason for writing about this now is because I hope it sheds at least a little light on where much of my insight comes from.

For those of you who haven't been following me from the beginning, I think it's important that you know a bit of my personal background. Specifically that I have willingly maintained relationships with narcissists in my life. Not once. But twice. Each over an extended period of time, though I know that pales in comparison to my ACoN friends who have dealt with it for twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years. But something that I've concluded after having these experiences is that when you've lived with a narcissist for even a year and you start being honest with yourself about you're part in it, the reality isn't very pretty. And it's always one HELL of a learning experience.

I've decided that it's time to talk about my dirty past because my dirty past has just come a knockin'. She's not banging and I doubt the likelihood that she'll start. But she is tapping on the door, just to see if I'm ready to come out.

For the record, I'm not and I won't. Ever. Been there done that and I have no inclinations to be her "friend" ever again.

But for this narc, we'll need a little back story:

We'll call her Betty. I knew Betty in High School and we were friends for a short time at that point. I don't remember much about our relationship then, except that she was an extrovert who played the part of the "good student" but who often tested the boundaries by behaving a little more on the reckless side than on the safe side. She had a pension for trouble and though there were a few times I found her presence exhilarating, she had a way of making me very nervous. I was a goody two-shoes. She wasn't. She danced just on the edge of what I would have considered "criminal behavior" at the time, and ALWAYS managed not to get caught. To my knowledge, none of her offenses were life-threatening, but she did things that I would never have dreamed of doing. She slept around, she dabbled in drugs. At the time, these were things that I really couldn't imagine being a part of.

I think I stopped being her friend shortly after I witnessed her manipulating her mother. I don't remember what she had been upset about, but I do remember being extremely uncomfortable that she was having a ridiculous emotional outburst in front of me. I also remember thinking that she had her mother wrapped around her pinky finger and that I would NEVER have gotten away with such behavior with my own mother. I think the argument she got into with her mother had something to do with the fact that her mother wouldn't let her drive somewhere (Betty had either recently gotten her license, or had her driver's permit, or something to that effect). Anyway, Betty wanted to drive her mother's new car and her mother said no. And the shit, as they say, hit the fan. And that's putting it lightly.

Betty had a full blown temper tantrum. I'm talking narc-in-a-rage, complete with belligerent screaming, name-calling, and fist-pounding. And then, when that failed, she cried. And cried. And cried. And got out of the car and refused to get back in, even with her mother following her slowly in the car and calling out the window, "Betty. Get back in the car. This is ridiculous. Just get back in the car." I think her mother, in desperation, even turned to me and asked me if I would talk to her daughter. And I was horrified, both because I didn't think it was my responsibility to take care of it, and because I had no idea what to do except that I knew her mother should absolutely not give in. I recall Betty, who's mother and father were divorced, repeatedly using her father as a tactic of manipulation. She kept saying she'd call her father and tell him what her mother was doing; that she'd go and live with him instead of her mother. I think her mother caved and Betty eventually got her way.

But all of that wasn't even the worst of it. The worst thing, in my mind, was that Betty knew she was manipulating her mother and admitted to it. She told me sometime after the fact that she did it on purpose and that, "All she had to do was cry and carry on for a while and then her mother would give her whatever she wanted."

I remember going home and telling my mom about it and she and I talked about how crazy it all was: that Betty behaved that way and that her mother allowed it.

At the time, I realized that she was attempting to manipulate her mother, but I didn't realize that it would likely be a life-long tactic that she was only just learning how to perfect. I mean, lots of kids have temper tantrums, right? And teenagers are known to have snits every once in a while. But I had a very strong sense, even at the time, that Betty had probably been getting away with that kind of behavior for a very long time and that she was behaving in a way that was rather incongruous to her age. At the time, I thought that her behavior had something to do with the fact that her parents were divorced. At sixteen years old, I just don't think I had enough life experience to realize that not all kids that are the product of divorced parents end up the way she did.

After that event, I eventually stopped seeing her and speaking to her and we went our separate ways. She was a year older than me anyway, so she graduated a year ahead and went off to college in another state. I didn't see her again until my junior year of college - roughly a year and a half after I broke up with my narcissistic ex-boyfriend, which is significant only because I was still emotionally reeling from that emotional/mind rape and wasn't as fully prepared as I should have been to deal with another narcissist - when she transferred from her out-of-state college to mine. As fate would have it, we ended up taking a class together and reconnected as a result. But still, it wasn't at that point that she and I really developed a relationship. We didn't become roommates until the following year. And that's because, while reconnecting, she discovered how desperate I was to move out of my parent's house and live on my own for a while. And so, the manipulation began: She offered up the idea to me that we could rent an apartment together, but she told me that she couldn't yet afford it and that she'd let me know "some time in the future" when that might become a real possibility.

Sounds well and good, right? Well, if Betty wasn't a manipulative bitch, then it all would have been pretty straight-forward. The way I see it now, Betty had used the opportunity of reconnecting with me to scope out my situation and this is what she saw: A peer who was desperate to get an apartment and who was longing to connect with someone. I had unknowingly broken the cardinal rule of relationships-with-narcissists: DON'T tell them your deepest fears or your deepest desires because they will ALWAYS find a way to use them against you. Keep that in mind as you continue reading: At that time in my life, what I wanted most, almost desperately so, was to 1. Live on my own, completely independent of my parents and 2. Have a couple of close friends again. Betty knew that from the beginning and used both to keep me around as a source of NS for longer than I'm happy admitting to.

After having coffee together a few times, catching up on all that had happened in the past couple of years, and feeling like I had found my new best friend, Betty and I kept in minimal contact. I called her a number of times over the year to ask her if she had the money yet to move into an apartment and she just kept stringing me along telling me, "Not yet, but soon." Maybe she really didn't have the money. Maybe she did. But what I do know is that my actions did nothing but show my desperation and that probably gave her a great sense of satisfaction and a feeling that she was in control. And in a way, she was. I latched onto her in much the same fashion as she latched onto me: I thought she had something that I wanted. And she figured, since I wasn't moving on and finding someone else to room with, then she could make me wait as long as she wanted to because I wasn't going anywhere else.

And so, the first stage was set. After many months of saving my money and waiting around for her to call, she finally did one day. And I remember how out-of-the-blue it felt. She just called me one day and the first words out of her mouth were, "I'm ready to get an apartment now."

And here comes the big BUT: She didn't have the money for the security deposit, so she wanted to know if I could come up with that money (it was two and a half months rent) which, she assured me, she'd pay her half of just as soon as she got it; or you know, at the very least, I'd just get it all back at the end of our lease. If I had at all realized what a slimeball Betty was, this whole thing would have been a HUGE red flag to me. It stinks of a scam artist at work. But, in the name of honesty (even if it makes me look foolish) I must say that the only eyebrow wiggling moment for me was the one when I thought to myself, "Well what the hell has she been doing all these past few months while she's been making me wait, if she hasn't been saving her damn money?" But I brushed that thought aside because I was eager to move out and within a few weeks we found our apartment.

I'm not going to go into every detail of what it was like living with Betty. For the most part, I actually look back on that time with fondness; not of Betty specifically, but of the things I was doing for myself at the time: I was finishing school, dating, partying, and just enjoying my new-found freedom, in general. I was proud of myself for being able to live on my own, even if it was with a roommate, and I was really living up the freedom that came with that independence.

If I could paint a picture for you of what our relationship looked like, I would first show you an image of two smiling friends, standing side-by-side. Then, I'd show you an image of one smiling friend, with her hand atop the head of her maid, who's busy scrubbing the floor with one hand, picking up cat shit with another hand, washing the dishes with a third hand, and offering up stacks of money with a fourth. (Yes, I had four arms).

Here are some of the incidents that occurred during that year with Betty, which slowly but surely lead the death march of our relationship:

The Dishes: Just a few weeks after we moved in, I went out on a date with a relatively new boyfriend. (I think it was maybe our second or third date but he was someone that I had been pretty seriously interested in and we ended up dating for another few months after this event). A few minutes into the date, Betty called my cellphone and, thinking it was some kind of emergency (because what the hell kind of girlfriend would knowingly interrupt a date unless it was for something dire?) I picked up. And got an earful. I wish I could remember exactly how the conversation went because, in hindsight, it would probably be ridiculously funny. But at the time, I remember feeling guilty. Sweaty-lipped, tight-chested, annoyingly-anxious guilty. Why? Because I had left dishes in the sink. But if you'd have listened to Betty, you probably would have thought I'd killed someone. She was angry, she was self-righteous, and according to her, she was being "taken advantage of." After calling me lazy, announcing that she was the ONLY one doing chores and I wasn't putting in my fair share of household duties, and threatening to leave the apartment, I meekly informed her that I was very sorry that I'd upset her and that we'd have to talk about it when I came back. I remember getting off the phone with her, feeling quite shaken, and explaining to my (poor) date, how my roommate had just gone off on a very strange rant and that I felt inexplicably bad because I had left my dirty dishes in the sink. What I realized later (much later) was that, now that Betty had gotten a free-ride into this apartment with me and had NOTHING to lose (if she had left, she wouldn't have lost any of that security deposit because none of it was hers to lose) she wanted to have everything working in her favor and she had no qualms about using threats and guilt-trips to get them. I felt bad about not having done the dishes because there was truth to the fact that I hadn't been doing the dishes as much as she had. And I was terrified that she would just pick up and leave one day if I didn't hold up my end of the bargain; the biggest problem with that being, of course, that I couldn't afford to pay the full monthly rent each month (which was why I needed a roommate to begin with) and Betty knew it.

It's all very manipulative. And from there, it only got worse. My dear friends, by the time our lease was up, not only was I doing my "fair share" of the chores, but I was doing her "fair share" as well. In a rather comical and sad twist, I kid you not, I was the only one cleaning that apartment when the year ended. I spent every weekend cleaning the place, top to bottom; I washed the dishes. I vacuumed and dusted. I emptied, washed, and deodorized the litter box that our two cats shared. I cleaned the bathroom. The only thing I didn't do was her laundry, but I'm betting that if I'd been foolish enough to live with her for another year, I probably would have. And the saddest thing of all was that I can't recall any one time, after the dishes fiasco, that she ever mentioned it to me again. She never had to pull those strings because she already had and I was foolish enough to let her. She'd made sure to make the threat just weeks into our lease so that it would always be hanging over my head for the rest of the time we'd live together. She continued doing occasional chores after that, at least for a few months. And eventually, as she let more and more things go, I picked up the slack. Until I was doing it all. Always with the fear that, if I didn't, she'd leave me hanging and take away one of the things I wanted most at that point in my life: to have an apartment and live on my own.

The Cat: If nothing else convinced me that Betty was a narcissist, the way she treated her pet was it. God, that poor cat. She rescued him just a few weeks before I rescued my cat, and for a short while all was well. But after a few weeks, I began to notice that, in spite of being treated for worms on two separate occasions, her cat still seemed to be very unhealthy. Though he had started out as a mild-tempered cat, he began to behave aggressively around food and would attack us if he thought we were going to take it from him. He begged for food all the time and ate as though he was starving, scarfing down whatever we put in front of him, even if it was odd foods that I've never seen any cats eat. And in spite of what he ate, he never EVER gained any weight. He had long fluffy fur so it was a bit surprising picking him up because he was devastatingly skinny. He hardly weighed anything and he was all skin and bones underneath the fluff. He had a constantly runny nose and his eyes leaked a greenish-tinged fluid. Aside from feeling bad for the cat, I also began to worry that he might be sick with something that might be harmful to my cat's health, so I started asking Betty if she would take him back to the vet to have him checked out again. She flat-out refused. I told her that whenever people came over to visit, they always commented on how skinny he was and that he didn't look healthy. Not only did she get angry with me for even suggesting that people might have the nerve to say her cat was unhealthy, she vehemently denied that he was underweight. One day, I asked her whether she would treat her own child that way, if she ever had kids. I told her that it was abusive to deny a defenseless creature medical treatment if it was obviously sick. She told me that she WOULD treat her child the same way because she wasn't doing anything wrong and how dare I say such a thing? She also told me that she "didn't have the money" to get him medicine anyway, even if he was sick.

I felt bad for the cat and I grew tired of listening to this heartless bitch tell me I was wrong for pointing out that he needed medical attention. I also grew tired of her lies. Because while her cat was suffering and possibly transmitting diseases to my own beloved cat, she was spending money as she always had: frivolously and irresponsibly. I still believe, as I believed then and I've believed all this time, that she both A) saw that her cat was in desperate need of medical attention and B) had the money to take care of the problem but that she simply didn't care. She was perfectly willing to go into debt for, say, a pair of shoes or a new sweater, but for her deathly sick cat? Hell no.

When I suggested that one of my cousins was willing to adopt her cat, she jumped on it in two seconds flat. The truth is that my cousin had not been interested in adopting the cat and that that was just my cover story to get him away from Betty. She agreed to let me take him because he was "going to a good home" (as though she gave two shits about that.) So, I took him. And, with my best friend along for the ride, I stopped at at least half a dozen veterinarian offices in the area in the attempt to find someone who would treat him for free. But we ran into so many issues: Our first stop was my own veterinarian, whom I told the truth to about the cat's situation and he said that, on principle, he really couldn't treat the cat because I was not the cat's owner. He suggested that I try bringing the cat to a shelter or, at the very least, calling up the shelter where the cat had been rescued from and telling them the issue. I did that. And they too, gave me the same answer: that they wouldn't take the cat back because I didn't own him. So I tried calling other animal rescues and shelters, only this time, I told them that I had found a stray and couldn't keep him. I was surprised (still am) to find out that NO ONE would take him. Apparently there are no shelters anywhere who are willing to take stray cats because there are so many strays that they rarely have room. So, my best friend and I moved on to our next plan: We drove to as many local veterinarians as we could, telling them that we had found a stray cat that was obviously sick but we couldn't afford to treat him and that no shelters would take him. We didn't want to tell them that he actually belonged to my roommate, because as soon as we had mentioned that to other veterinarians, they had all immediately refused to even look at the cat. So, we told them as much truth as we could; that the cat was ill and he needed medical attention and that I didn't have the money to have him treated. We saw one veterinarian who was kind enough to look him over, but since he didn't run any real tests, he was never able to diagnose the poor cat. Though a kind gesture on his part, I had known that the free de-worming antibiotics he gave me were not going to cut it. Eventually, we started asking the veterinarians if they would consider humanely putting him to sleep because we couldn't find a shelter that would take him and we weren't going to keep him. They all said no.

After a day of driving around from veterinarian to veterinarian, and getting nothing more than a useless de-worming kit, I was completely out of options. I brought the cat to my parents house because I didn't want to bring him back to our apartment where he'd just suffer longer at the hands of my cruel roommate. I didn't know anyone who wanted a cat, in particular one that was already gravely ill, and I didn't think I'd be able to find a home for him. The next day, I brought him with me to work. A friend of mine who was working there at the time, came up with a solution that he thought was rather "brilliant!" It really wasn't, but none of us knew what the hell else to do, so I watched as he took the little guy and let him go outside. Where I worked at the time is known for it's high population of stray cats and I think we all figured that he would get "bested" out there by some other stronger cat and maybe nature would take it's course.

But, about a week after letting him go, we were greeted by a familiar face in a nearby alleyway. And, when I went outside and saw him, exclaiming, "Oh my god! He came back!" that tired, bedraggled, dirty little fluffball came RUNNING back to me. He heard my voice and that was it, he came bolting towards me, desperate, and climbed up my pants and into my arms, where he sat, trembling and deathly frail. Once again, I brought him to my parent's house, far too emotional to let him go again back in the street where he would surely just starve to death. And once again, I was charged with trying to find a solution to his plight. My parents started bouncing around the idea that maybe someone we knew would consider humanely killing him. That night, I gave him his last meal: tuna fish. I opened up two cans of tuna for the poor guy (which he devoured in seconds). The next morning, after calling around to several friends and family, my father found someone that he worked with who was willing to do the deed. To this day, I don't know how the cat was killed, but I was told that it was humane and quick. And I still consider his death to be more humane than Betty's cruel treatment of him. The only time she ever asked about him after that was the night that I "brought him to my cousin's house." Other than that, she never once mentioned her "beloved pet" again.

The Guy: Roughly halfway through our lease, Betty introduced me to a bunch of her friends. One of them decided he was interested in me and we went out a few times. We flirted lightly on Facebook (GASP! Yes friends, I Jonsi, Hater Of All Things Facebook, had a Facebook account for a short time) and saw a couple of movies together. That was about it. I never really liked him as anything more than a friend and our relationship was really not progressing beyond that light-flirtation zone. But when Betty got wind of it that he and I were becoming friendly with each other, she nosed her way in with guns blazing. To this day, the only thing I can imagine she was after was control. I think she got involved because she wanted to "put me in my place" and attempt to intimidate me. Anyway, she cornered me one day after I got home from work and started accosting me for having the gall to date one of her friend's exes. She told me that her friend was "very upset" that her ex was speaking with me and that we were flirting. She also told me, several times, that "if this was the way I was going to behave, then I was going to lose ALL of my friends and no girl would EVER want to be my friend because that's just NOT how you treat girlfriends." I remember feeling rather dumbfounded because much of what she said didn't make any logical sense.

I tried to explain to her that my relationship with this guy was none of her business. She retorted, "Of course it is, I introduced you to him!" I replied, that if that was truly the case, then I could tell her what kind of relationship was acceptable for her to be having with her current boyfriend, whom I had introduced her to, but that I didn't give two shits about what she chose to do with him because it was none of my business. She angrily stated that it was not at ALL the same situation. I tried to tell her that it really didn't matter what kind of relationship I had, or that I had a relationship at all, with one of her friend's exes. I also told her that her friend was not my friend and whatever issues her friend had with either me or her ex were really no concern of mine. She told me that I would lose all my friends if I wasn't careful, which I took to mean that she was threatening me and trying to get me to assume that she had some sort of unlimited power with which she could destroy any and all relationships I might like to have in the future. (For the record, I didn't bite and I didn't feel very intimidated, though I definitely noticed the tactics she was using). I told her that I could understand why my correspondence with the guy was really better off being private, instead of on Facebook, and I promised to stop communicating with him in a public space on the internet. I followed through on that promise. She told me it wasn't good enough. Over the course of a few weeks after this conversation took place, she continued to try to bully me via email about it; and in person she gave me the cold shoulder. I don't recall exactly how the whole debate ended, except that she sent me one final email about it and I told her that I wouldn't be discussing the issue with her anymore because I had said all I was going to say. Eventually, it all got swept under the rug for her, but I never forgot that she had tried to push, badger, bully, and intimidate me into a corner.

The Contact Lenses: I believe that a LOT of abuse is evident in the little things. There's outright abuse, and then there are the little abuses that take place over the course of a month, a year, ten years, that start to add up until they are so overwhelming that you're either forced to build the dam higher or let it burst and get swept away. I believe that this is one of the problems that many ACoNs are forced to face. ACoNs see it all the time: the constant accusations from those on the outside that all those little moments the ACoN describes "weren't really that bad," that they "weren't really abused" and that the ACoN is simply overreacting about insignificant things. But in reality, I think that a million little abuses; a million little manipulations; a million little threats; a million little snarky comments, a million moments of neglect, all look the same as one molestation, one rape, one beating. For the record, I am NOT going to claim that this particular moment I'm going to share with you is akin to abuse, on any level. It was just another of Betty's little manipulations, nothing more and nothing less. But I see a similarity in that anyone who finds themselves subject to a narcissist will suffer those little manipulations, and that those little manipulations paint the picture of the relationship on the whole. Lots of little and constant abuses paint the picture of an abusive relationship on the whole; just as lots of little and constant manipulations paint the picture of one toxic relationship on the whole.

So, one night, Betty took a guy home from the bar and at some point in the middle of the night, that guy "accidentally" emptied out my contact lens case into the garbage because he needed a place to store his lenses. When I found out the next day, Betty told me it was an accident, and that she had told the guy to use her contact lens case and that he had mistakenly used mine instead. She did not apologize and she did not offer to replace my eighty dollar contact lenses. After some time and thought, I decided to ask her to pay for them because, even though it may not have been intentional, at the end of the day I was still out a pair of very expensive contact lenses. I approached her and asked her politely to pay me for them. At first, she agreed. But later in the day while I was at work, she emailed me. I wish I still had that email. In it, she proceeded to list out all of the things of hers that I had used over the past few months, including but not limited to: her toilet paper [which her father had bought for us]; a partial box of cookies; and her bottled water that she'd never given me permission to drink. Then, she told me that I had broken her coffee table while we were moving in [I think this was actually the case] but that I had never offered to pay for it and that, when all was said and done, I actually owed HER. Unfortunately, I couldn't argue with her about nearly any of it because I had been quickly coming to the conclusion that one can not argue with a lunatic and ever expect to win. In the end, I took the hit for the eighty dollar contact lenses, and a whole lot more.

The Groceries: Another small moment with a huge impact on me. Once, Betty got back from grocery shopping and she called me on my cellphone from the parking lot to ask me to come down and help her bring her groceries up the stairs. We lived on the third floor of a three story apartment building, with no elevator. And here's the thing: I had never asked her to help me bring my groceries up because they were my fucking groceries and because I wasn't that fucking lazy. I had been taking a nap when she called me and I begrudgingly said yes to her request. Here's why: Saying yes seemed a whole lot fucking easier than dealing with the drama and emotional fallout that she would have inflicted on me if I dared to say no (and actually follow through). I remember having this very clear mental debate about whether I should just shut the fuck up and do whatever she wanted, or say no, on the principle that these were her groceries, not mine; that I had never and would never ask her to come down three flights of stairs to help me carry up shit that I was perfectly capable of carrying myself; and I found it really inconsiderate for her to ask me to do a favor for her when she probably didn't give a rat's ass about what she may have been interrupting. And in the end, I decided that I would just say yes and help her with her damn groceries because the long term-effects of saying no were just too fucking annoying to even think about. BUT. This is why I get it. Well, this is one of the many moments that helped me to get it: Why an ACoNs first choice is usually to say "yes" because saying "no" is so much harder; why following through on a "no" is so daunting; and why saying "yes" to the narcissist's demands just feed their power trip and teaches them that their tactics are working. And, above all, why when you feel like you have no way out (whether that is true or not) "no" just doesn't seem like an option. By this point in our relationship, Betty didn't even have to pull those strings anymore, because I was acting on the sheer anticipation of what would happen if I said "no."

The Finances: The money is a topic that puts the cherry on top of this whole mess for me. Let's talk about how Betty swindled Jonsi out of hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. To make a long story short, I was far too trusting of a crook who was embezzling my money without my knowledge. After living with her for almost a year, I finally found out that while Betty was busy collecting my portion of the monthly bills from me each month, she was also busy NOT paying her half of the bills. The only thing she ever paid (at least up until the last month of our lease) was her half of the rent, and several times she paid late, costing us a late fee. (Since I feel pretty sheepish at this point, I'm going to go ahead and let you know that I SO did NOT pay the $7.50 she was trying to get me to fork over for HER late fee. She may have swindled me out of thousands, but I stood firm on that damn $7.50!) I came to realize, in those final months, that Betty was in deep (how deep I don't know, but from the little I saw, it was fucking DEEP) personal debt; and that, while she was applying SOME of the money I was paying her towards our bills, mostly, she was just paying enough to keep our electric, cable, and water on and taking the rest. Call me a fool, dear friends, I know I was: Betty asked me for money each month. I never saw the bills, I just gave her a check. Addressed to her, of course, at her insistance, and then she turned around and deposited it in her account. And apparently just embezzled most of it and rarely paid what she owed towards the bills. Normally, Betty got the mail everyday because she got home earlier than me. But when my employer asked me to cut my hours because business was slow during the holiday season and I started getting home in time to see the bills; I finally decided I was going to start opening them because they had "urgent" written all over them in big, red, unavoidable letters. And that's when I found out that from month-to-month we were getting notifications that our utilities were going to be shut off and that our accounts were all deep in the red.

Towards the very end of our lease, Betty and I got into lots of arguments that I can no longer recall. It's likely that the FOG was too thick for me at that point to remember precisely what was happening. But I will tell you that she did not pay her half of the last month's rent and that it got taken out of my security deposit, that she attempted to get me to pay her for the last round of utility bills by claiming that she didn't have the money to pay for her half of the last month's rent, but that she'd be able to pay me back (somehow miraculously) after I paid off the rest of the utility bills, and that she refused to offer up the year's worth of bills when I asked for them, stating that I "wasn't worth the cost of a stamp to send them to me."

Um. I may have accidentally turned up the heat in the apartment to it's max temperature before turning in my keys, knowing that Betty was on vacation for the final week of our lease and wouldn't be back to turn in her keys until then. But like I said, my memory of that time is a little foggy and all, so I can't be sure.


  1. This is such an interesting post for me. And really it's scary as hell. Because I look at you, strong, smart, savy and she conned you. Now, I know you were younger and vulnerable at the moment, but it's amazing to see how she could manipulate and bully you into such a place. And it scares me to think that those of us who have FOO like this really stand little chance. That we really have to claw and fight and give everything we have to withstand this crap. I see exactly how she screwed you over. I'd say it was brilliant in it's execution if it wasn't so god damn cruel. And you had no "long standing" ties to this girl. I think that's why it's so hard for us ACoNs to get away (and why we will struggle with it the rest of our life). Our ties go deep and the manipulations are so much more intense.
    Thanks for sharing this. I anticipate reading Part 2. And dear god, the cat. My heart ached for the poor thing that climbed into your arms. May she rot in hell for inflicting such pain on the defenseless animal.

    1. Isn't it scary though? This is why I admire you guys so much. Because I came from a place of strength and she STILL conned me; I had loving parents and I still couldn't see through the subtle manipulations at first. It's just that much harder to see this shit for what it is when you come from a background of this crap.

  2. This post made me think of this girl I befriended shortly after college who ditched me for a "cooler" girl (and bad mouthed me in the process since we had been mutual friends). Well, bitch girl ended up sleeping with cool girl's longtime boyfriend and got herself kicked out of their shared apartment. Then cool girl asked me to take over the lease. Which I was glad to do since I was living in month-to-month at the time. But then bitch girl approached me and demanded I pay her the deposit she'd laid down for the apartment.

    I told bitch girl in my best controlled voice that her loss of the deposit was not my problem, that legally she was lucky I took over her lease and that maybe she should've thought about her finances before she chose to sleep with her roommate's boyfriend. And "Please get the fuck out of my cubicle now."

    Heh. One of my finer moments.

    A couple things came out of this 1) Bitch girl actually recommended me to her boss when I was getting ready to change jobs on our company's leadership training program and 2) I learned logic and the word "no" are good defenses.

    You get this, Jonsi, from what I read. :) Stand tall, lady! :)

    1. Eesh. No class. There's just so many people out there like this; dishonerable, dishonest, and down right nasty.

  3. Hi Jonsi.
    I have never read your blog and while doing so stopped and thought, she's really got a good hold on this personality disordered thing. Especially for some one who choose to interact with one as opposed to those of us that were born to it.
    These people are so crazy that there is toxicity enough to poison every one around them.
    My first close encounter with the bat shit crazies, that I acknowledged to myself that this person is insane, wasn't even my mother. It was my first wife.
    And she pretty well swept the rug right out from under me.
    I chalked my mother up as an ice bitch supreme.
    I hope I am not responsible for a trend of people disclaiming themselves on their blogs for fear of not giving someone their due ranking.
    Crazy is crazy and it don't matter where it comes from and how it got there. If it's sucking the life out of a person, it's sucking the life out of a person.
    Any distinctions I made on my blog about the source of suffering from a malignant narcissist, was me defending myself from a bunch of facebookers that were making that distinction to me.
    Does that make sense?
    I hate seeing you discount your experience when it is as valid as any one else's.
    If it has anything to do with my dust up with those FB douche bags, I would rather you just tell your story and not dilute it. Placating for the sake of placating.
    If I am completely sounding like an idiot with a sweaty grip on reality, feel free to delete this.
    Or post it and every one have a go.
    You know me. Eager to please and will do anything for a laugh.
    I will now go and actually READ what you wrote.
    Ta ta.

    1. I did have your recent post in mind when I was adding my disclaimed, Q. Because I think there is validity to it. Even though my experiences are valid and I don't discount them, at the end of the day, I still think there is something truly amazing about people who come from an abusive background and are eventually able to see this manipulation for what it is and make their way out. But me? I was just foolish. I give myself some slack because, as Jessie said, I was young and in a vulnerable spot. And I was known for being naive amongst family and friends (and hell, that was true). But in this case, in particular, I remember being really angry with myself because I'd already done this with my ex and I couldn't believe I'd let myself be so manipulated all over again. It was the same story, with a different character.

      Anyway, I value your opinion Q. And I still agree that my experiences are not as devastating as any ACoNs.

  4. "Why an ACoNs first choice is usually to say "yes" because saying "no" is so much harder";


  5. Oh Jonsi, thank you so much for sharing your story because it further validates why our struggle (that never seems to end) is so difficult and fraught with threats of backsliding. I mean if someone who is smart and strong as you got conned and struggled to extradite herself from the toxic mess, what chance did the rest of us had???

    "I spent every weekend cleaning the place, top to bottom; I washed the dishes. I vacuumed and dusted. I emptied, washed, and deodorized the litter box that our two cats shared. I cleaned the bathroom. The only thing I didn't do was her laundry,"

    You described exactly the six years when my NM lived with... I mean leached off of me, except I was doing her laundry! This woman never held a job during that time and since she wasn't cleaning, what the hell did she do with her time? I never asked because it would be 3 hours of non-answers. I think your post is timely because after 4 years of extreme Limited Contact, in the wee dark hours of this morning I broke down and cried that I want to see my mom again. I'm hoping that acknowledging my wants and desire will be enough (validating myself) and that I won't actually go running back to her.

    P.S. I'm glad the poor cat spent it's last day on earth in your warm and kind presence.

    1. It's so funny Enilina, because I see you guys as being smarter and stronger than me, because you had even more cards stacked against you then I ever did. The fact that your chances of getting out were even smaller than mine, makes it all that much more amazing that you did it. You're all a testament to how courageous and strong ACoNs have to be.

      I'm hoping you won't run back to your abusive mother either. But I don't think you will. Because you ARE strong and you ARE smart and you ARE amazing. And you're worth more than she is ever going to give you.

  6. "But in this case, in particular, I remember being really angry with myself"
    And there is but one of many common denominators we share.
    I wish I had not been dragged into that shit. But standing down flies in the face of what I preach on my blog.
    I won't stand by and watch a bunch of pussy fuck-tards gang up on someone. If nothing else it gives me more reasons to say things like pussy Fuck-tards. You know. The fun part of this experience.

    1. I agree with you - I think it's so much more honorable to not be "one with the crowd" when you see someone being bullied. Someone has got to stand up and champion the victim. But sadly, I think ACoNs also get sucked in to being the champions every time, even when the victim really can't be saved.

    2. I think I might use the term "pussy Fuck-tards" in the future. Its got such a ring of truth to it in regards to certain individuals I have known over the years. :o)

  7. Ohh, how they hone in on your deepest desires, interests etc. and then they start the game by Mirroring: "Hey, ME TOO!" and isn't it just serendipity you meet someone who's looking for EXACTLY what you are! For the N's outside of our FOOs (who hone in on our deepest fears/insecurities and exploit the hell out of them) this Mirroring tactic is so consistent it's a huge red flag for me. And you picked up on the other big one-Why NOW?-as it felt a bit...strange when she called.
    The rest has been said above.
    Jonsi, Please don't think for a moment your observations/experiences aren't somehow as valuable as any ACoN's: You married into a classic ACoN mess and have certainly contributed all kinds of great stuff to the discussion. Hearing it from someone with a foot in both worlds so to speak is validating beyond words. And Ns are ubiquitous: Your dissection in this Post is deftly rendered.
    I do believe we need to cut ourselves a great deal of latitude for being young and inexperienced and being additionally vulnerable secondary to the end of the relationship with the NBF. As I recall, you got emotionally beat up pretty badly there. We're "unfit for human consumption" for quite awhile after these "relationships" end.
    Looking forward to Part 2.
    (Love the heat maneuver, BTW!)

    1. I've kind of stopped being angry at myself about it now that I've really done the hard work to ensure that it wouldn't happen again. I mean, sometimes I am angry with myself about it still, but at the same time I'm actually glad I went through it because it gave me the insight needed to deal with DH's FOO when the time came. And ultimately, I think the insight was super necessary. I shudder to think how much longer DH would have been enmeshed and how much worse off we'd have been if I didn't already have these experiences under my belt when DH (and his toxic family) came along.

      And heat maneuver? Whatever are you talking about TW? ;O)