My Fight With A Religious Narcissist
It’d been two blissful years since my last run-in with a narcissist. So when it happened again, it kinda’ caught me off guard. Not only did I not recognize it as narcissism, but it was just as crazy-making as ever! How humbling is that!?
It all started off innocently enough. Well, kinda’ innocently. Remember that article I wrote, When A Narcissist “Gets Religion,” You Get Screwed? With a twinkle in my eye and a delicious feeling of daring, I posted it in the Facebook alumni group for my conservative Christian school. As Lou Costello might say, “I’m a baaaaaaaad girl!”
Suddenly, other alumni starting coming out of the woodwork, exchanging “horror stories” from the 1970’s-1990’s. Tales of children taped to chairs, left in dark rooms, teachers kicking desks over, etc. It was pretty bad!
Whoosh! Out of nowhere, a denier joined the conversation daring to rebuff and invalidate our tales of abuse. To top it off, the denier was a clergyman! I took it on the chin particularly because my article about religious narcissists started the whole kerfuffle. “Pastor Denial” wasn’t pleased.
All my fellow alumni were like, “Whatever. Leave him alone. He’s a bully. Don’t give him your strength.”
But that’s not what I wanted to do. After all, I’ve been “taking the high road” all my life, ignoring bullies, not speaking my piece. I always took the High Road and it hasn’t gotten me to Scotland ‘afore anyone (see video). So I decided to stand up for myself and demand an apology. It was good for my soul. After that, yes, I determined I’d go No Contact.
Again, craziness ensued. So I figured, why not juice the lemons of craziness to make the lemonade of inspiration for this article.
(That may be the sappiest line I’ve ever written!)
Wait…What Just Happened?
Even a week after the brouhaha began, my brain feels swollen. I keep wondering, “What the heck just happened?” My emotions are a toxic cocktail of anger, confusion and frustration. Mostly frustration. Because he didn’t play fair. But then again, what narcissist ever plays fair?
I quoted his words exactly and he weaseled out of them.
He misquoted and twisted my words, then judged me for what I never said, thought, wrote nor meant. I found myself going back, re-reading my articles, trying to find the horrible things I supposedly said. But that’s narcissistic clairvoyance for ya’. They know you better than you know you! Then try to brainwash you to believe you’re much worse than you actually are.
It was unfair and unjust and I’ve never been able to handle injustice. It’s always infuriated me.
Oh, you want an example? Okay, okay. Here’s an example. He claimed, “So, yes, in fact, you DID attack [the religious school’s] values, and their beliefs. This is evident by your exception to the term ‘fundamentalist.'”
I never went anywhere near his fundamentals!
In fact, in my article I defended God from the hypocrites who give Him a black-eye and a bad name by spouting-off about Biblical values and beliefs…but not following them. Or by just being silly, far-out and inhumane and thus besmirching God’s good name.
(In fact,I haven’t even thought about the word “fundamentalist” for approximately 10 years, 4 months, 8 days and 17 hours. To quote Sherlock Holmes, “Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it.”)
Reverse Engineering the Kerfuffle
Then I thought back to when I was “reverse engineering” my own family. It required a lot of mental strategies that were foreign and uncomfortable.
- Trusting my intuition
- Making assumptions
- Reading between the lines
- Recalling vague memories from decades ago
- Trusting my gut instinct
- Distrusting everything the narcissists had told me
- Owning my new truth
Truth. Fact. Objectivity. Black-and-white have always been my guiding light. Like all narcissists, Dad insisted upon it.
To rewrite my history I had to abandon all his mind control to discover the truth from subtle hints and gut instincts. I had to trust myself. In rare moments of clarity, my subconscious mind confirmed what my conscious mind was too horrified to accept. Daddy was messed up!
And this hateful reverse engineering is exactly what I had to do with Pastor Denial too.
Official Story VS Truth
When you’re dealing with narcissists, there’s the “Official Story” and the “Truth.” And never shall the twain meet.
You Always Overthink Everything
But it takes times to “reverse engineer” the narcissists’ lies. Sometimes the lies are blatant, but a good liar knows not to overplay their hand. Just 1º off truth will serve their purposes. And even that 1º = A Frickin’ Lie. In fact, the best lies are always the ones that are closest to the truth.
Of course, it’s not in their best interests for us to “overthink” things. We might catch those nasty, tricksy narcissists lying. So yeah, no wonder “overthinking” is frowned upon.
In retrospect, I believe my viral article entitled When A Narcissist “Gets Religion,” You Get Screwed hit a nerve. The article called Pastor Denial’s bluff and tweaked his conscience…before I even knew he existed. The fight that ensued after that was merely a smokescreen to disguise his wounded false ego.
And that makes me think of eccentric genius Oswald Bates asking, “Can you photograph a lie, as it escapes out of the person?” Just another off-the-wall quote from another off-the-wall movie, Shooting the Past.
- Being subtly misquoted
- Being subtly “misunderstood”
- Having inaccurate words put into my mouth
- Having inaccurate thoughts put into my head
- His use of logical fallacies
- Being publicly shamed and censured for all-of-the-above
Like all narcissists, he wielded GASLIGHTING. BRAINWASHING. MIND CONTROL. Fancy-pants words for LYING.
(Surely, unworthy of a pastor!)
If I had said, thought or implied what he claimed, ah, I would indeed be ashamed and accept his censure gracefully. (And he tried to call me a narcissist!?!)
But, you see, I didn’t say, think nor imply them.
My three decades of mind control betrayed me at this point, tempting me to believe that a man of the cloth must be right. I re-read my articles. I searched my soul.
But I know what I think, believe and wrote. And it’s NOT what he said I thought, believed and wrote.
Gaslighting no longer has power over me.
Fun Factoid of the Day: The 1944 movie, Gaslight, is the source for the word “gaslighting.” In the movie, Charles Boyer tries to brainwash his wife, Ingrid Bergman, into believing she’s going insane. He does this by hiding small items and blaming it on her. Or denying that the light from the gaslights momentarily dimmed, making her doubt her own sense and thus her sanity.
Strangely enough, this movie is in the top ten of my mom’s favorite movies. So when I first learned the word “gaslighting” in 2013, I instantly understood it. Yet, no matter how many times I’d watched the whacked-out dynamics between Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman prior to 2013, I never realized it was happening in my own life.
How maddening is that!?!
What Will Others Think?
The fear that others would believe the subtle untruths he said about me was one of the most painful aspects of this situation.
Remonstrating would be construed by Pastor Denial as sinful pride. Whatever I said, he’d just twist it…again.
I had no choice but to throw myself on the mercy of my other alumni’s intelligence, trusting they would see through his gaslighting and realize him for what he is: a bully in a pulpit.
I carry my adornments on my soul…
I go caparisoned in gems unseen,
Trailing white plumes of freedom, garlanded
With my good name—no figure of a [wo]man,
But a soul clothed in shining armor, hung
With deeds for decorations, twirling—thus—
A bristling wit, and swinging at my side
Courage, and on the stones of this old town
Making the sharp truth ring, like golden spurs!
And Pastor Denial was publicly besmirching my soul and good name. That was crazy-making.
If I hadn’t had the Daddy I had, I might have missed it. But with my background, it leaped from the page!
He said, “…your accusations are markedly subjective, emotional, and philosophical.”
Yes? And your point is?
Daddy said the same thing. “We live based on fact, not emotions,” he insisted. Can ya’ believe it?! These narcs are all alike! Illogically logical.
Narcissists don’t like emotion. They work on fact alone. Why? Because feelings put a cramp in their style. Your victim’s emotions are inconvenient when you want to abuse them. God gave us emotions so we’d know when we’re being sinned against.
But if narcissists can find a logical rationale for the abuses they commit, then it’s OK. Too bad if it brings agony to their victim! That doesn’t matter. Facts alone matter and facts can be twisted to allow just about anything.
But they themselves are the most emotional basket-cases on the planet! (Gimme an “H”! Gimme a “Y”! … Whaddya get? Hypocrisy!)
(BTW, that’s why children of narcissists can’t feel their emotions anymore, are catatonic, can’t cry and never, never trust their intuition and gut instincts. Damn! These kids come pre-groomed. Yikes!)
Ah, it was subtle. So subtle he could easily claim he never did it. Iron-clad plausible deniability.
My article implied they handled the subject clumsily. He implied that I implied I was opposed to any teaching on the subject.
Conclusion: Lenora’s a slut.
Oh aye. And the moon is made of lemon meringue. If my Daddy hadn’t done the same thing to me, I might not have recognized it for what it was.
Yet, another lie.
Oh, It Gets Better!
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I leave you with the words of the one-and-only, Roddy Piper, who said it best! (click below)
Did you like what you read here? If so, I’d be happy to contribute an original story about narcissism, narcissistic abuse (and its many rotten bedfellows) and healing to your site or guest blog. For details on the “whole package” deal I offer, please visit www.lenorathompsonwriter.com.
Recommended Reading: The Screwtape Letters by my darling C. S. Lewis. One of the best books ever written!
For more rants, ravings and reverse engineering of narcissism, please visit www.lenorathompsonwriter.com and don’t forget to subscribe for daily updates by email. Thanks!
This article is for informational and educational purposes only. Under no circumstances should it be considered therapy nor replace therapy and treatment. If you are feeling suicidal, thinking about hurting yourself, or are concerned that someone you know may be in danger of hurting himself or herself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is staffed by certified crisis response professionals. The content of these blogs and all blogs written by Lenora Thompson are merely her opinion. If you are in need of help, please contact qualified mental health professionals.
Thompson, L. (2016). My Fight With A Religious Narcissist. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 26, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/narcissism/2016/02/fight-narc-1/