But Do You Answer Yourself?

Being the adult child of a narcissist has made me very sensitive to the behavior of malignant narcissists.

I can’t go on the internet or listen to people talk about current events without getting triggered. I hate this dark, twisted, weird ass nightmare we live in. I feel like we’re in an alternate universe. I know we’re not, though.

No blimps. There are always blimps in alternate universes.

One thing that I find as difficult to process as the fact a lunatic has access to the nuclear codes is when I see narcissistic behavior in myself.

It took a while, after I became aware of parental narcissism, to acknowledge and process my own tendencies toward narcissistic behavior. I concluded it’s not shocking a human would possess traits of a parent. Even an unpleasant one.

All I could do (can do) is examine my behavior, habits, or beliefs and adjust them in a way which helps me feel better about myself. It’s been a long ass haul and my progress is plodding, but progress is progress. I can’t complain.

Hahaha. That’s not true. I can complain. I’m actually pretty fucking good at it. 

I’ve been feeling, for a while, that I’ve worked through a lot of these behaviors and have been feeling rather comfortable in the space I am in. I mean, not super comfortable, but comparatively speaking, it’s like sitting in one of those spa chairs you sit in when you get a pedicure instead of laying on a bed of nails.

And my brain just perked up and said “yeah, bed of nails. Because over-stating and being dramatic isn’t narcissistic at all.” 

Like I said, progress is slow.

Anyway, I used to compulsively read articles about parental narcissism. I got this cold comfort from reading and re-reading them which bordered on masochistic. Like when you have a sore tooth and can’t stop probing it with your tongue.

I still sometimes seek these articles out. Not often anymore. It used to be multiple times a day and now it’s probably once a month.

I read one today about characteristics of a malignant narcissist. There weren’t any revelations. I’ve read the characteristics of a malignant narcissist dozens of times. Although, this article had one characteristic I hadn’t read before.

They talk to themselves. And answer themselves.

Wait. Whut?

I talk to myself. I talk to myself constantly. I answer myself, too.

In my defense, if I’m asked a question, it’s rude to not answer. 

I don’t just talk to myself. I have entire made up arguments that I always win.

I re-create conversations so that I can delete the horribly awkward things I said and replace them with intelligent, coherent thoughts.

I berate myself and then berate myself for berating myself.

I do these things out loud, not just in my head. Only when I’m alone, like in the car or  in the shower.

I also gesticulate. A lot.

I must do that all the time because boss tells me that if he is following me down a hallway, I look like I’m conducting an orchestra. That’s probably because I’m either replaying or constructing a conversation in my head and my hands feel the need to participate.

The other day, as I headed toward my cube, I must have been waving my hands around because I heard my office mate say “Oh, that’s just what she does.” I looked up in time to see the person she was talking to with a “what the fuck is she doing?” look on her face.

I think I need leather straps on my clothes so I can tie my hands down when I’m walking about the office.

Anyway, that article freaked me out a little. Am I fooling myself? Am I more narcissistic than I claim to be?

Then I remind myself:

I am chock full of empathy.

Not always, but quite often, I put other people’s needs ahead of my own.

I am not cruel to other humans. That isn’t to say that I have never been cruel, but it’s not been often. 

I don’t gaslight people by attempting to bend reality to fit my narrative.

I guess I still have a lot of soul searching to do. I am trying to figure out why talking to oneself is a trademark of a narcissist.

I’m not the only one, right? Y’all talk to yourselves, at least some of the time?

 

Photo courtesy of StockSnap.

 

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  1. All the damn time. I talk to myself constantly. I try to tell myself I’m a writer and that I’m writing in my head, but sometimes I have to play songs in my head to shush the voices.
    It must be very difficult to be introspective, because you need to be, with fears you might also be a narcissist.

    Reply
  2. Haralee says:

    I talk to myself all the time. You are not alone on that one. Most people think you are on the phone talking with some one!

    Reply
  3. Lisa K says:

    Voice #1 in head: Don’t tell her that!
    Voice #2: Blog – hog!
    Voice #3: Fuck, just say it…
    Real Voice: It’s her blog, she usually likes your comments
    Voice #1: But you ALREADY commented on your voices…28 times!
    Voice #3: But, maybe someone new hasn’t heard it yet.
    Voice #2: Hurry! Type it before you’re not 1st to comment!
    Real Voice: I’m typing frenzied Kermit style!
    Voice #2: You’re gonna wake up Tim with all that pounding…
    Real Voice: You’re forgetting to drink your coffee…
    …wait…. that may be Voice #4
    My coworker has to explain (excuse) my ‘eccentricities’
    *Voice #3: Nice word so early in the morning. Voice #2: AND you spelled it right, first try, Byotch!*
    all the time… to my boss, coworkers and patrons that can see me through the window of my office.
    I LOVE you most, new voice #6 (from training new coworker with extreme patience), but I can see my use for you is limited.
    Voice #4 is a complete twat-monster, so I try NOT to listen… very often 😉
    Real Voice: Ummm… Michelle? Tell me were normal daughters of Narcissism…

    Reply
  4. Sue says:

    I read an article, but I can’t remember where, that said talking to yourself is a sign of intelligence. Don’t think it mentioned answering yourself. But I’m sure that’s normal. Right? Has to be. Best thing that ever happened for people who talk to themselves was bluetooth devices. Now people just assume you are on the phone.

    Reply
  5. Donna says:

    I talk to myself (and answer because, you’re right, it would be rude not to). I also worry (too much) that I’m just like the worst parts of my parents – their traits that I despised, that hurt me. It’s something I’ve worked at – not being like their worst selves.
    More or less, on most days, I think I succeed. I think that’s the best any of us can hope for.
    Donna recently posted…AtomicMy Profile

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  6. Irene says:

    I watched Oprah interview Martha Stewart about 20 years ago, and they talked about books. Martha Stewart says she writes in her head while gardening because that’s the only time she’s got to edit. So now I tell my neighbors I’m doing that when they find me talking to myself. Or else I pretend I’m talking to my dog.
    Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone in trying to heal my punctured spirit by editing my daily conversations!

    Reply
  7. Barbara says:

    I’m the daughter of 2 narcissists and I talk to myself ALL the time. I answer, too, because I need validation. 😉
    b

    Reply
  8. You can’t have a real conversation with yourself if you don’t answer, right? Makes perfect sense to me.

    Reply
  9. Becky says:

    I talk to myself all the time, but with bipolar disorder, the chaos in my head sometimes gets to be too much so I have to talk out loud, just so I can hear myself over the chaos. (If that makes any sense)
    Becky recently posted…Remember Why You Started BloggingMy Profile

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  10. Shani says:

    I don’t know? I definitely talk to myself all the time. My mind is constantly going and I wish it would shut up especially when it’s time for bed. I don’t think I answer myself but because my mind is constantly going I can’t say for sure. Maybe I answer myself but it all just seems like one long ramble to me?
    Why are you making think on a Monday? Now I have to add that to my very long list. Perhaps I will have the answer in 2049.
    But yes you are empathetic to others. And it makes loads of sense that you pick up certain traits you were raised with. I often say that every generation does-the goal is to lessen the negative traits done for the win.

    Reply
  11. Peggy Leslie says:

    I talk to myself all the time, and have to force myself not to do it out loud at work.

    I came upon a review for “The Journal of Best Practices:A Memoir of Marriage and Asperger Syndrome”, about a guy that took a test for ASD online and went from there. I took the test and was not terribly surprised when it said to see a doctor. Anyway, my favorite way to shut me and my mind up is to wear dangly, noisy earrings. Portable white noise as it were.

    Reply
  12. mydangblog says:

    It seems to me that you’re simply too self-reflective, in a very honest way, to be truly narcissistic. The fact that you’re able to fight so well against the baggage of your childhood is tremendous!
    mydangblog recently posted…My Week 152: Trip Part Two, Bats in the Belfry, The Irony of the KKKMy Profile

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  13. I think we should start an “Adult Child of Narcissists” (ACN) self help group. I can draft the 12 Steps (I have experience with these things).

    1. Admitted we were powerless over our narcissist parent and as a parent, they totally f*cked us up.
    2. Came to believe that a power greater…..

    You get the idea and I’m too lazy to type all 12 because the end of the world or an eclipse….whatevs…is coming in about an hour so I gots to go.
    Bryce Warden recently posted…Trying to balance compassion and self preservation…..My Profile

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  14. Denise says:

    I don’t talk to myself out loud much, but I do have conversations where I think of something better to say. Or, I have imaginary conversations with people over things I’m worried about that haven’t even happened. I’m not sure what that says about me?! I’m working on not doing that any more, but if I’m stressed, it will start happening more frequently.
    Denise recently posted…Sunday Afternoon, and I’m ba-aack!My Profile

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  15. Doug in Oakland says:

    I used to think that the “narrate your life like it was a TV show” kind of talk was just a side effect of getting high, but it didn’t stop when I came down after my stroke.
    Then, when I was in rehab from the stroke and was tasked with coming up with a sequence of steps to use to relearn how to do my basic life functions without hurting myself, I found that talking to myself (and answering when appropriate) was very helpful, in a “check the boxes on a to-do list” sort of way.
    I was self-conscious about it until my OT suggested doing just that to everyone in the class… “Try talking yourself through it, at least until you’re sure you have the steps down cold”, she told us.
    I also used to use it as a memory-enhancing tool when doing certain repetitive tasks at work, like prep work at a restaurant. You have to prep 100 of them as fast as you can, and you’re going along saying the numbers out loud “forty-six, forty-seven,” and someone stops you to ask you a question. You answer them, and turn back to your prep, and think how many? Look and the pile and briefly consider counting them, say out loud “Fuck that, forty-eight, forty-nine…”
    I guess sometimes you have to look (or sound) a little crazy in order to trust yourself to be able to do what you can do. The proof is in the fact that it works, and you really can do it.
    While I do admire your attempts at self-improvement, I think your self is just dandy the way it is, for whatever that is worth, and that an awareness of the inner workings of malignant narcissism is unbelievably valuable right about now.
    Probably doesn’t make it any easier, but valuable nevertheless.

    Reply
  16. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who does this. I learned the other day, I’ve become a family legend for talking to myself. I have entire conversations with the most fascinating people … who aren’t in the room. I tell myself its a sign of genius. Maybe it comes with being a writer. Our heads are so full of thoughts that if we don’t put them down on paper, they must come out somewhere!
    Laurie Stone recently posted…Help! My Bucket List is Shrinking!My Profile

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  17. Julie says:

    I definitely talk to myself…I live alone – who else would I talk to except the cat? I do find that I have to monitor my self talk, though, and remind me to stay focused on good things versus dwelling on anything else.
    Julie recently posted…Garden Update (August 2017)My Profile

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  18. “I don’t just talk to myself. I have entire made up arguments that I always win.
    I re-create conversations so that I can delete the horribly awkward things I said and replace them with intelligent, coherent thoughts.
    I berate myself and then berate myself for berating myself.
    I do these things out loud, not just in my head. Only when I’m alone, like in the car or  in the shower.
    I also gesticulate. A lot.”

    I do all of the above. Frequently. I usually hide in my bathroom with the door locked when I do, but occasionally will do this in my bedroom. I’m less likely to do it in my bedroom for psychologically traumatic reasons I’d rather not get into.

    But, yes, I do them. You are not alone.
    The Cupcake Witch recently posted…College Witchery: Seriously?My Profile

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  19. Jill Smo says:

    I talk to myself sometimes. I’m also the child of a narcissist. Also I’m not a narcissist. And neither are you.

    Reply
  20. Onlyme says:

    I talk to myself. All. The. Time. I thought it was just because I’m old. You mean it’s not?

    Reply
  21. Mary-Anne says:

    Answer myself? Of course. Some days I have a running commentary of what I am doing – and yes it is aloud. My husband does it too which makes most of our days sound like this.

    Me: Did you say something?
    He: I wasn’t talking to you.

    He: Pardon, I can’t hear you when the water is running.
    Me: I wasn’t talking to you.

    AND no-one else lives here.

    Don’t get me wrong – we do talk to and with each other – but there are lots of other conversations going on. When my hubby was working he would rehearse the both sides of work conversations aloud in the shower. I could always tell what kind of day he was steeling himself for by the tone and volume of the shower talk!
    Mary-Anne recently posted…Yop Update eight – Nothing to see hereMy Profile

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  22. I’ve been over this same stuff with my therapist, so you’re actually on familiar ground (for me). Here’s what we’ve come up with:

    Yes, when raised by narcissists (or any personality disorder, no need to go all brand loyal) it is absolutely normal and expected that you’ll look for those traits around every corner and especially within yourself. And we’re all a little selfish and self-centered, so we all have some things in common with narcissists. It’s about degrees, and pattern, and the extent to which a disordered personality will carry behaviors. You’re not there. Pinky promise.

    As people who were raised by disordered personalities, we have some… unique skills. For example, you and I are probably better equipped to manipulate and gaslight than the people we encounter, but we are also better at spotting it and less likely to do it than someone else who’s picked up the skill. Because it was inflicted on us in our tender years, by the very people who should have protected us from everything.

    You talk to yourself. Out loud. And you answer yourself. Cool. While, yes, that can absolutely be a sign/symptom of a personality disorder, it’s also the sort of habit someone might pick up after having been raised by one. Bit like someone raised by short parents never bothers putting anything on the top shelves of their own apartment, right?

    I don’t have conversations out loud, but for super-broken reasons: I’m paranoid that someone’s watching whenever I do something private or embarrassing. Because that was totally a thing growing up, a grown-up silently watching my private moments and waiting days or weeks to bring it up in front of others. So… you’re fine! (and probably the healthier of the two of us, lol)
    ActualConversationsWithMyHusband recently posted…A Shower Warrior is MeMy Profile

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    • Michelle says:

      Thank you for this! I love this. Yes. Yes to everything. Lying, for instance. I am an expert liar. I can lie my ass off. I am convincing. However, I don’t lie. (white lies, lies to spare feelings, the type of lying we ALL do aside because EVERYONE lies sometimes). So I get what you are saying. I can also spot a lie at 20 paces. People lie A LOT. Mostly I am curious as to why they are lying and not angry about it. I just assume they are protecting something within themselves and I am cool with that. Sometimes it pisses me off, though. Depending on the situation.

      Reply
  23. Billie says:

    A narcissist is not capable of self- enquiry or self criticism so the talking to yourself is just what everyone does, although most wouldn’t admit it, or even question it. Yes, I have the voices, not the ones that mean I’m crazy, just the inner dialogue everyone has. They need to shut up though, don’t get me wrong.
    I wonder how many narc traits |I must have picked up too, as the daughter of serious toxic narcos. Eg self- bloody- pity etc. But we just plod on as best we can. And at least we question and correct our behaviour, unlike “them”.
    I know answering yourself is meant to be a sign of being unhinged but honestly- who could ignore themselves for more than a few seconds?

    Reply
  24. Trina Talma says:

    I talk to myself. I talk to my cats. Most often I catch myself saying to myself, out loud, things I’ve just thought. Like the thought isn’t complete or valid until I’ve said it aloud, even though I only do this when nobody else is around.

    Reply
  25. Liv says:

    Yeah…I’m pretty sure that talking to oneself is a flag for a whole host of mental illnesses, not just narcissism. (Wow. That really helped, didn’t it.) 🙂

    Just to be clear. I talk to myself all the time. I’m crazy. But I’m not a narcissist.
    Liv recently posted…Embracing Change: Time to PivotMy Profile

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  26. Well, you already know how much I think of you. But now, I like you even more because you’ve made me feel better about resenting it when others are around and prevent me from talking to my inner therapist. We are excellent at both expressing and solving problems.

    I consider it a sign of good self-esteem, and self-reliance.

    As sick as narcissists are, they are outliers, as are the super-confident, extroverted ones at the other end. Directly in the middle, wouldn’t it be strange if there weren’t SOME like traits in the profiles of each?

    You break my heart and make me laugh out loud. I’m not surprised you like to talk to you.
    Susan C. Bonifant recently posted…After AugustMy Profile

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  27. Karen says:

    Very entertaining post, thank you. I talk to myself constantly. My user name is usually “kk and the girls.” The girls aren’t other people, they’re in my head. Believe it or not, I talk to myself to keep myself sane. I don’t believe there is any (other) reason to think I’m a narcissist. I’m pretty sure that even well adjusted people have narcissistic tendencies now and then. Maybe when you see yourself behaving that way it’s actually within the range of normal but you’re sensitive to it due to your history.
    Whatever the case may be, I like your writing and wish you the best.

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      Thank you so much! And you are right, we are all narcissistic sometimes, that is the nature of humans. I probably am a little sensitive to anything related to narcissism, well..perhaps more than a little. haha.

      Reply
  28. Leslie says:

    I talk not only to myself but all animals and inanimate objects. I do it so much (yes I gesture) that when I want to talk to my husband I have to preface all conversations with “Max ” and after I ask or tell him something I have to follow that with “You heard me, right?” We were at The Alligator Farm in St Augustine this past week and I was talking to the tortoises and the alligators and my husband kept shushing me or people would think I’m not playing with a full deck.

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      HAHAHA..I would be right there talking to them with you. And how important is the full deck anyway? I mean, if you are missing a few cards, then you just improvise.

      Reply
  29. emelle says:

    I think I only talk to myself when I’m alone at home. No gestures; no responses. I talk to myself *possibly* more than to my husband. I think that may indicate Depression more than narcissism, though.
    emelle recently posted…Did you think I’d forgotten you?My Profile

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  30. Jessie says:

    You’re not a narcissist. If you were, you wouldn’t be worried about it, and you SURE as heck wouldn’t be blogging about your fear that you are, or any of your other human foibles.
    Because narcissists control and “spin” their public images to try to look perfect at all costs. That is what narcissists do. Right? Right. (Yes, I talk to myself, too.)
    Narcisissm isn’t a binary thing — yes yo have it or no you don’t. It’s a scale. They have questionnaires designed to see where one falls on the scale. Only if one scores above a certain score, which is definitely not “zero,” but really pretty seriously narcissistic, is one considered NPD. Everybody else is just somewhere in the normal range — and if you score too low, you’re considered to have self-esteem problems and need to raise your narcissism score a bit so you’re not crippled with self-doubt, self-abusive, accepting/attracting of abuse, or just plain depressed all the time.
    And you clearly have empathy and compassion or you would not care about other people, which you clearly do. Just look how many virtual hugs you give out to others of us who suffered from being raised by an actual malignant narcissist.
    (I’m also willing to bet that when you talk to yourself, a lot of the comments are along the lines of mine to me, e.g., “”Jessie, you are such a moron fuckwad….”)

    Note: I just found your blog via Huffpost’s re-posting of “Being an Adult Child of a Narcissist,” and no it was not the post of a narcissist — first off, you copped to having some narcissistic traits, which no real narcissist would do — and besides that it was so true and compassionate and wise and spot-on that I e-mailed it to my new therapist to save time explaining. I’ve only read, like, 4 posts of yours total because I just noticed the link to your blog when I went back to re-read the Huffpost article, and I already love you. And I react to malignant narcissists pretty much the way you say you do, except sometimes I actually do have to take a Xanax; and when reading your blog, I feel so safe I’m drinking coffee, the anti-Xanax, instead, which gives me anxiety if anything anxiety-provoking is around, like a malignant narcissist. So proof positive you’re not one, and I’m going to go brew another pot now so I can keep sipping while I read more of your blog. And talk to myself.

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      Hahaah you are moron fuckwad? Nice to meet you! I am fucking idiot. I love this so much. Thank you. It’s been a long and weird ass journey and I hoped by now I would have found more peace than I have. Granted, I’m in a very VERY stressful work situation right now so my anxiety is off the fucking charts. I KNOW that I’ve gained some confidence and self acceptance. It’s just such slow journey and I have so little patience. xoxoxooxox

      Reply
      • Jessie says:

        Fucking idiot is one of my alter-egos, too.

        Yeah I know what you mean about slow journey. But, any progress is a success. Rome not built in a day, other cliches….
        U R doing great.

        Reply
        • Michelle says:

          Thank you. And yes, it does take time and I am grateful for any progress.

          Reply
          • Jessie says:

            Look, girl. Look at what you have done. Come from the vicious child-rearing of a malignant narcissist, who from Day One lets us know they are important and we really are not, you should be a total dysfunctional cripple. On heroin. Being beaten by your narcissistic boyfriend, who cheats on you. Well, ok, maybe some of us didn’t land THAT hard. (But some of us certainly did.)

            Anyway, even if parental voice in your head that makes you call yourself fucking idiot, you’ve launched and maintained not only a blog that gets reprinted in HuffPost etc. and makes me laugh and cry, you’ve made a community of we who suffered what nobody, really, even considered a thing. Erasure of child and eventually adult via weird-ass-narcissistically-personality-disordered parent. And, here, you’ve given us room to learn and teach and commune, commune, about living and surviving possibly the loneliest kind of child abuse there is.

            See, that parent was just WRONG.

          • Michelle says:

            I love you. I needed this. Thank you.

  31. Jessie says:

    Well, it’s true. 🙂

    And here’s a admission of mine: I think this exchange has freed me, finally, from the fear that I am a narcissist. I so, so feared that.
    But you don’t seem to need Xanax….
    This exchange that you, yes, YOU, made possible is extraordinary.
    You’ve built, really a WordPress temple of healing.
    Look at what we just did for each other.
    Never happened to me on any other blog, no offense to other blogs.
    Just YOURS. You.
    Your narcissistic parent was, you will forgive me, an idiot. Well, a sick idiot. He destroyed, you heal.
    And that’s that.

    Reply
    • Michelle says:

      If you FEAR you are a narcissist, then you are not. Narcissists don’t feel there is anything wrong with them. Do you have some tendencies? Perhaps. I know I do, but this is how we were raised, how could we NOT have some tendencies. It’s just a matter of acknowledging and adjusting.

      And thank you. Thank you so very much. This means a lot to me.

      Reply
  32. Jessie says:

    You are most, most welcome.

    Reply

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