One of the most intriguing things I’ve noticed about narcissists is watching one lie in order to convince herself as well as others that something is the truth.
There was a show on TV a few years ago called, “Lie To Me” that I just loved. It was about a deception expert- basically a human lie detector. He would work with the police or military or whoever to help solve mysteries, because he was more able to detect lies than an actual lie detector. The show was fascinating not only because the stories were interesting, but also because it was really educational. It taught me about micro expressions- the fleeting expressions people make without being aware of them. It also would show examples of various faces of people expressing various emotions. Cool stuff if you’re interested in psychology like I am. This show taught me a lot about how to detect the truth about people. Body language & facial expressions are much more reliable than the words they speak.
A few years ago, after watching a marathon of “Lie To Me” on netflix, my husband & I went to dinner with my parents. While my father was away from the table, my mother was telling my husband & I that my father had just recently gotten rid of his cell phone- gave it to a neighbor lady. She said she had no idea why he did that, what was wrong with him? She even paused for a moment after she said that, as if allowing it to sink in. I quickly realized what was going on…
I’d given my father a cheap cell phone a few months prior, because he complained that my mother spent so much time on the phone, he couldn’t use it often. She has a cell, but keeps it in her purse. I thought a simple, cheap cell phone might work for him- it’d eliminate the conflict & it was only about $15/month to maintain. From day one, my mother was mad he had this phone. She griped at him & I both about how he didn’t need a cell phone, how it’s a waste of money, he’s ALWAYS buying minutes for it (yea, once a month..), he spends too much time on the phone & other nonsense. He finally was so tired of her complaints, he gave it away to get her off his back. My mother was glad he got rid of the cell phone, but did not want to be to blame for him doing so. Her solution was to lie & try to convince herself, my father, my husband & I she had no idea why he got rid of it. To admit she nagged him into doing so would make her look bad, & no narcissist can handle looking bad in any way. Lying this way was the best way to handle it, in her mind. Eventually it worked- she is currently convinced she has no idea why he got rid of his cell phone.
My mother isn’t the only person I’ve seen do this. (Her display was only the most obvious one.) In fact, I think it’s a pretty common thing among narcissists. After all, they’ll do anything to prevent them from looking bad. My mother also will talk about what a great, loving mother she was to me. She also has bragged about how upon meeting her, my one parakeet loved her very much (that didn’t happen) & how much my furkids love her (they don’t even like her). She has even said that she can’t keep rescuing me because if she does, I’ll never learn (my mother has not one time “rescued” me in my entire life). She is again trying to convince herself that her lies are the truth.
Unfortunately, I think this phenomenon is a coping skill that narcissists use when the truth is too ugly for them to bear. They simply cannot bear to look anything less than perfect. They especially can’t handle admitting the truth that they were horrible & abusive to their own child. I wonder if the reality of how much damage they have caused would cause them to emotionally & mentally collapse. I find narcissists to be rather weak people, & believe that is a very distinct possibility.
When these situations happen, I know they can be frustrating & hurtful. It especially hurts when your narcissistic mother brags about how much she’s done for you. When this happens though, please do your best to remember, this is how she chooses to cope. Yes, it’s hurtful to you & yes it’s dysfunctional, but it’s her choice. Unfortunately, she has the right to exercise this ridiculous behavior. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to condone it.
When my mother brags about how good she’s been to me, I refuse to give her the validation she is seeking. I won’t say a lie is the truth just to support her dysfunctional coping skills. However, I also don’t tell her she is wrong. She can have her delusions if she wants to, just don’t expect me to agree with them. I get around validating her by saying things like:
- “I don’t remember that.”
- “Uh huh” (shows I’m listening but it’s non-committal)
- changing the subject
Unfortunately this coping mechanism of hers still hurts sometimes, but I have noticed that it hurts much less than it once did. Once I realized that my mother’s bragging about her fantastic mothering skills is all about how she copes with abusing me, it took much of the sting out of what she said. I think this is because I realized although she is refusing to invalidating me & refusing to accept responsibility for it, she knows what she has done. What she did bothers her enough that she feels the need to deal with it, & this just happens to be her way to cope, dysfunctional as it is.