Narcissism And Gas Lighting: Learning Small Lessons
I took the day off of work a week from last Friday and wrote this before my day off was even half over.
I had to deal with people today, you guys. People. Ugh. They’re the worst.
Randy wanted a chocolate cheese square from Dunkin Donuts. I had a doctor appointment and had to stop by the pharmacy, so I volunteered to pick one up for him.
I got to the drive thru at Dunkin Donuts and placed my order.
Dunkin Donuts Lady: We don’t have chocolate cheese squares. Only caramel.
Me: Oh, you don’t have those any more.
Dunkin Donuts Lady: We never had them. We had pumpkin ones.
Me: You had them, we got them here more than once. Maybe, it’s called something else. Oreo cheese square?
Dunkin Donuts Lady: Nope. Never had anything like it.
Goddammit so much. Yes they did have them. I know they had them. I fucking bought them. I watched Randy order one at least two different times.
I drove around to the window. I knew I should let it go. I mean, no matter what, they didn’t have any chocolate cheese squares, so what made the difference?
Me: Okay, so those chocolate cheese squares.
Dunkin Donuts Lady: We’ve only ever had caramel or pumpkin.
Then some dude behind her pipes up and says “Yeah, we had chocolate ones. Up until a few weeks ago.”
Dunkin Donuts Lady: Whatever.
I drove away so frustrated.
Whatever? Are you fucking kidding me, Dunkin Donuts lady? Not “whatever”. I told you that you had them. Goddammit so much.
I started to berate myself. Why? Why would I choose to get all worked up over something so trivial?
No. No, we’re not going to be mean to us. Let’s just think about this for a minute. There is a reason that made you feel so angry.
Then it dawned on me. Gas lighting.
A common tactic for a person with narcissistic personality disorder is to gas light their victims. They convince them that things that happened, never happened, or vice versa.
I have a pretty strong memory for conversations and events. I learned to do this many years ago as a defense mechanism. I can accept a lot of things, but I cannot handle it when someone insists something isn’t true when I know, 100% for sure, it is true. I feel angry, frustrated, and I want to throttle the person who is trying to fuck with my knowledge of my own truth. Even if they are messing with something all the way down at the donut level.
Children raised by narcissists don’t get to have much of a sense of security from external forces, so they create their own. My security blanket was woven through carefully memorizing conversations, paying close attention to events, and their sequence. Then, I could know what was true and real and what wasn’t.
This gas lighting revelation made my frustration melt away. I don’t have to feel my whole sense of security shake when someone insists that something is true when I know it isn’t. I mean, I don’t think I’m cured or anything but, maybe, I can let go of frustration over things at the donut level.
Lesson learned: Dunkin Donuts lady was frustrating, but ultimately gave me a gift. I hope she has a wonderful holiday.
After the donut lady, I had to go to the phone store. I hate the phone store. I hate the phone company the way I hate cleaning toilets and insomnia.
When we switched our internet provider, we got a year long fiber optics TV package for 5.00 a month. We looked at it once. In a year.
I remembered that we were going to start getting charged full price for that service, so I packed up the equipment to return it and cancel the service.
Me: I want to cancel the television service.
Phone Company guy: Were you not happy with the service?
Me: We just didn’t use it.
Phone Company guy: Well, we can offer extra channels for…
Me: Hold up. We already don’t use it. Extra channels would just mean we were extra not using the service.
Phone Company guy: Can I ask what service you use?
Phone Company Guy: Well, the sports package includes (something, I don’t know. I don’t care about sports so I didn’t listen). And Netflix doesn’t offer anything like that.
Me: We don’t watch sports at all.
Phone Company guy: What price are you willing to pay and maybe we can come up with a package that suits you.
Me: Look, we just don’t watch that much television. I want to cancel. I am cancelling and that isn’t going to change, so let’s just cancel this and we can both go about our business.
Translation: I actually DO watch a lot of television, but the box with all the stations is downstairs and I’m upstairs in my bedroom. I would rather watch the same Netflix series three consecutive times rather than expend the energy it would take to go downstairs and flip through the available channels on the fiber optics thingy.
Lesson learned: Phone company guys are douche bags and I’m kind of lazy. So, thanks? I guess?
If you’re going to take a day off work, you might as well learn something new. Or not. Maybe staying in bed and watching Netflix is a better choice.