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It must be your fault

The Story

Jill stirred the pasta. Concerned, she glanced out the window, once again looking for George’s truck. Biting her lip, she hoped he would hurry, those last couple ingredients he was picking up were needed. Turning the heat down so the food wouldn’t burn, she stirred again then heard his truck. Wiping her hands, she headed outside, glancing at the clock as she passed. Sighing, she realized he was 30 minutes later than he should have been.

As she approached the truck, she could see him on the phone. Peeking in the window, hoping to just grab what was needed for dinner and go, she didn’t see a grocery bag on the seat. She did see a new knob, probably for his bike. A piece of paper fluttered under the shiny know. Grabbing it, she saw that the time was from 15 minutes ago. He had stopped to get this but not what was needed for dinner!

“George,” she tried to get his attention, but he just held his hand up in her face and turned away, continuing talking on the phone. Walking into his view again, she repeated, “George.” This time the urgency in her voice caught his attention.

“Hold on a sec, Les,” he said into the phone. Putting his hand over the receiver, his voice took on a hard quality as he asked, “What? I’m talking here.” Seeing his glare, Jill took a slight step back and stammered. “Come on, spit it out, I don’t have all day.”

“George, where is the last ingredients I needed for supper? You said you’d pick them up.”

“What? You didn’t call to remind me. I can’t remember everything.”

“But George, we need it for dinner.”

“Then you shouldn’t have upset me last night by breaking that dish. You are always doing something to get me upset. I can’t think straight when you are like that. If the ingredients are so important, you go get them.”

“But I asked you because you go right by the store on the way home. You said you would.” Jill was on the verge of crying as they fought once again.

“Well, that’s the problem. I wasn’t going that way. You should have checked if I was going past the store tonight.”

“You went and bought that knob for your bike? I thought you were done buying new parts for that thing for a while?” 

“Look, you’re interrupting me, I’m talking with Les.”

Angry and starting to feel the tears fall, Jill stormed away, calling over her shoulder, “Never mind, it took too long so dinner’s probably ruined anyway.”

“I am sick and tired of your incompetence and having to eat so many crappy meals,” he called. “Shape up or I swear I’ll leave.”

It’s you, not me – deflection

There are many tricks that a narcissist can use to make you feel crazy. Deflection is one of the most aggravating and downright childish in its presentation.

When a PD (personality disorder) has done something wrong, they can’t admit that. They won’t live up to their mistakes, no matter how obvious it is that it’s their fault. It never will be, they won’t take responsibility for their actions.

What they do is deflect. If you present them with a problem or the consequence of their actions, they will turn it back on you. It’s really your fault because of some real or exaggerated reason. It may not even make sense.

If they don’t call to cancel a magazine and your credit card gets charged, it may be because you didn’t make the bed that morning and so they couldn’t possibly be expected to remember about the magazine. You had a meeting and get home to see the dishes weren’t done like they said they would, it must be your fault because you took too long in the shower that morning. 

These seem silly, but it’s this type of logic that a narcissist or borderline personality will give you. Sometimes it may make a bit more sense, but only because you are too close to the situation and have probably been trained to believe it. Maybe you did have an argument that morning. It doesn’t mean they still can’t stop to get the dry cleaning for your banquet. Maybe you forgot to put the ice cream away and it melted so no one got any. Ooops, sorry, I’ll get more when I go past the store. Right? Oh, but now, the narcissist forgot to close the bedroom window and it stormed, drenching all your books and breaking an antique vase that was blown off the shelf. Well, all they could think about was the wasted money from the ice cream so it’s really your fault that they didn’t close the window – like they had promised.

These examples seem a bit far-fetched, but if you’ve lived with someone that employs this tactic you are probably shaking your head in agreement. Yup, sounds like your life.

No matter what happens or proof you may have, many PD people can never admit they’ve done something wrong and can never take responsibility for their actions, especially if they know what they did was wrong in some way.

What to do

Like most problems with someone that has narcissism, borderline personality, histrionic, or antisocial disorders, there isn’t much you can do. Arguing won’t solve anything and you will never ‘win’. Pointing out what they did will just lead to an argument – because they can’t be faced with the reality of what they did wrong.

If you can’t get help – professional counseling for you and your partner – and all your friends and family are tired of listening to you complain, you might want get out. Things won’t get better and you can’t ‘fix’ or improve them.


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