I reined myself in last week when dealing with my difficult encounter, but I could have done an even better job. I should never have criticized the woman back and instead should have followed the advice here:
I’m not beating myself up over it too much though, as, like the majority of people out there, I don’t have an advanced degree in psychology, and it’s only after I’ve been spurred to seek help in dealing with a difficult person that I learn what I should have done and thus what I can do better next time.
I’ve encountered enough difficult people in my life– (I believe) some with narcissistic personality disorder and others with borderline personality disorder– that I’m slowly learning and getting better with my reactions each time. What does this have to do with this blog? I guess that I find those types of people to be quite canny at spotting the vulnerable spots, and being single is being vulnerable. I try to be honest about the pros and cons of single life, and that’s a definite con.
I do get defensive if friends suggest that somehow I bring these situations on myself. It seems to me that is a case of blaming the victim. We can all improve our reactions, but none of us can completely predict who is a time bomb or what will set them off.
Also, I’ve read that people with personality disorders are drawn to the very qualities that healthy people treasure– strength, competence, kindness, empathy, charm. They prefer to feed on a healthy host, after all.
Unfortunately I’ve had to become less open, friendly, and empathetic with people I don’t know well, but I can’t and don’t want to completely shut off those qualities. It’s definitely tricky!
You’re quite right that: “people with personality disorders are drawn to the very qualities that healthy people treasure– strength, competence, kindness, empathy, charm”. It’s a fact.
If anyone is struggling to deal with someone exhibiting ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ symptoms of behaviour, wild & inappropriate rage and abuse, please do check out the work of Richard Skeritt. If you sign up to the email list, you get daily excerpts from his books that are incredibly informative and illuminating.
I in 10 people have a personality disorder, and the main symptom is that their perception of reality is ‘disordered’. However, to them, it seems that everyone else is behaving oddly, not them. It’s a very distressing experience for them, and for those who get close to them.
And another excellent book is “Walking on Eggshells”. Says it all, really!
Thanks Jody! I haven’t heard of those books– I will look into them.
Good post. I’m sorry to hear of your recent problems. One concern I have about being single long-term is that I will fare relatively poorly in dustups with whackos and creeps. I wonder if it’s more important to learn to identify them in the first place and avoid them or learn coping techniques.
I think both because it’s hard to avoid them completely.
Ranty, I’m curious about your friends who indicated you brought this on yourself – do they mean because of how you responded to her? It’s so easy to lose your center when under fire by personality disordered people, and typically it’s out of the blue so you’re caught completely off guard. You’re learning now, but it takes going through it at least once to really get it and learn how to respond differently. I’m sorry they’re saying that – sounds like they haven’t had their own initiations yet!! One day they’ll ring you up and apologize : )
With my sister, I try to think of her as “sick” instead of cunning and cruel, but it’s really hard given her obvious malicious intent. Blech …
I totally get your last sentence!
I think some of these friends mean, “Why did you let this person in your life in the first place?” But they don’t realize that things are usually subtle in the beginning and that it can be hard to keep boundaries with people who are determined to cross them.
I’m hard on myself for how I responded, but you are right, the whole “out of the blue” thing catches you off guard.