March 10, 2010

Backstabbing Friends

Stańczyk by Jan Matejko, 1878

While writing about Chickens in Oz, another cyber-experience came to mind. One of my cyberbuds decided it was time to end our friendship without any chance of reconciliation. That was obvious by the ‘way’ she left. You can always tell when somebody doesn’t want to reconcile if they move to another ‘home’, don’t leave a forwarding address, and go No Contact. Especially if they move, don’t leave a forwarding address, go No Contact, and light your house on fire while you’re sleeping. I may be ‘thick’ but eventually, I admit it's no coincidence a friend carried a box of matches in her purse the last time we visited.

I can take a hint. And I can dowse flames fairly well, too. Good thing. There’s been more than one arsonist in my shortlist of intimate friends and lovers.

I’d get a complex about my inability to discern friends from foes were it not for the fact that duplicitous folks are extremely accomplished at disguising their intentions. I’m not so good at it. If I don’t like somebody, they know it. If I do, they know that, too. Pretense has never been my strong suit, which kinda makes me easy pickins’ because I figure other people are similar to myself.

I don’t expect to be duped, dumped, or deceived because when I care about someone, I don’t dupe, dump, or deceive. If there's a problem, I talk it out since my attachment to them is stronger than my fear of being rejected. So when someone ends a relationship without recourse, sets my house on fire, and runs away accusing me of being the arsonist, there’s no sense chasing after them asking, "Why? Why?"

Grab the fire hose. Put out the fire. And set about reconstructing what’s left of the house (or your character if it’s singed a tad, smokin’ a little, and extra-crispy on the edges).

My X used to say there were two ways to end a relationship: 1) Starve it to death; 2) blow it up. Since I am one of those gals who can subsist on meager offerings and pitiful golden crumbs without complaint, blowing it up might be the only way for someone to deliver the message that they hate my guts and can’t stand looking at my face any longer. Fun was fun but when they’re done, they’re really and truly done.Bridges are destroyed and despite my construction skills, they aren’t interested in re-crossing that bridge when I get to them.

I’m not too old to learn new things, though. I have quit building bridges by my lonesome. If a former friend is on the other side of a ravine, spittin’ robustly or peeing in the wind blowing my direction, I figure it’s time to give up hope for reconciliation.

When a friend suddenly ends the relationship in a brutal, condemnatory and accusatory fashion, they aren’t just saying they’re upset. They’re saying the friendship never ever was what you believed it to be. This message comes through loud and clear when they justify their ‘attacks’ by accusing you of what they were probably doing all along. That’s a hard truth to bear and sometimes you don’t think your heart can take it, so you blame yourself instead.

The thing is, reconciliation takes two and if you’re the only person willing to do the work, you’re the only person who believes the friendship is worth the effort. Should I repeat that? “Reconciliation takes two and if you’re the only person willing to do the work, you’re the only person who believes the friendship is worth the effort.”

While thinking about the ending to what I believed was an intimate and safe friendship (which was all in my head and reflective of my intentions and mine alone), I remembered a post by Kathy Krajco that appeared almost in sync with the arsonist taking action on what she does best: burn other people’s houses down and blame them for setting the fire.

The written exchange between Kathy and myself took place in 2007, so to anyone out there in cyberland who is frustrated about being six months into recovery and still feeling terrible, get out your Kleenex and sob a few tears for good ol’ CZBZ who’s been trucking down the recovery highway for nigh on eight years now. Feeling safe in our skin again takes as long as it takes. Some of us might spend the rest of our lives undoing the damage that was done to our naïve trust, desire to forge relationships, and our belief that everyone just wants to love and be loved.

You can love an arsonist, oh yes you can. But you’d better keep a bucket of water in the kitchen for the moment she decides you’re no longer useful.

Fun may be fun, but when she’s done with you, she’s really, truly done.


by Kathy Krajco,
December 2007

This is for an overlooked class of victims. For every spouse abused by a narcissist, there are several children of narcissists abused by them. And, in most situations, the narcissist has had the power to get co-workers fired and/or to destroy careers, so the narcissist also leaves a trail of these victims in his or her truculent wake through life.

And then there are the friends. People who once were friends of the narcissist and all of a sudden one day found their guts hanging out in a narc attack, to be left wondering forever afterwards what they did to make the narcissist so mad that he or she ripped them to shreds and refused to see or have any contact with them anymore.

In the cases I know of, this pattern began in childhood. So, the eviscerated former friends in a narcissist's past form a long line of people he or she has just used up and then savaged before throwing them in a dumpster along the way.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever had a friend who suddenly blew up at you one day and spoke just viciously, tearing you to shreds, to the point of tears, and then refused to see or talk to you again? Still bewildered by it? If so, stop wondering what you did.

This seems to follow a rigid pattern in narcissists. As usual, it's counterintuitive, but once you catch on, you see that it makes perfect sense.

Remember that narcissists do everything FOR EFFECT, not because it's a true expression of their thoughts and feelings. Never forget that it's ALL just an act. Every smile. Every frown. Every word. It's an act designed to manipulate a certain type of response from you (their mirror). For example, they will be a Democrat one minute and a Republican the next if it suits their purpose. Their rages are often just put-ons to intimidate and steer your behavior into the direction they want. It's not real. Yes, they may work themselves up into a fine fury, but it's artificial, so a minute later they've forgotten about it.

You probably just stopped being a source of narcissistic supply. That is, you probably stopped being a mirror that she saw a flattering reflection of herself in when she was blathering at you. How? You probably just started to yawn now and then when she was blathering nonstop at you for hours. It always happens - eventually her friends get tired of it, especially if there is something going on in their own lives that they would like to talk about. They start having better things to do than hang on her every word for one of her three-hour monologues.

I have discovered that this is all it takes. Or, it could be that you have just proposed marriage to her. Oh-oh, you are professing love to her, which calls for reciprocation. Or, maybe you have a terminal illness and need her comfort and affection = need HER to listen to YOU, to hear your fear and pain. In either case, one might as well ask for blood from one's tick. She is gonna take off.

(The only giving she does is at a profit: she is delighted to bring you casseroles and do other material things that she can make an ostentatious display of and make sure everyone knows about ... to carve out that saintly false image of hers. But any giving of herself? Forget it, it ain't gonna happen.)

She is like a bee in search of nectar. You're just a flower - supposed to give, not take. And keep giving in abundance.

When one flower is tapped out and stops supplying it, she just flies off in search of another. She doesn't do this in anger: she simply loses all interest in you, because you are no longer useful to her. Since she has no feelings for anyone whatsoever, you might as well be a screwdriver that broke, so she just gets a new one.

Indeed, you mean nothing to her so why should she have any real feelings of anger toward you? Any anger she feels is nothing more than the anger of a little child at a broken toy. She just gives that toy a whack and forgets it as she goes off to get a new one.

Then why the ugly scene at the end? I have learned that she always says goodbye with one of those nasty stings. She has been doing this to her friends since grade school. She rips into that person the last time she talks to them.

It's just a parting shot. Why? Why not? She is done with you, so she has nothing to gain by being decent to you today - she will never see you again.

In other words, when she's dropping you, she does it because there's no reason not to anymore. This is one of the most difficult facts to face about malignant narcissists: they are predators. They need no reason to attack: they need a reason NOT to attack.

Therefore, when it's the last time they're going to see you, there is no longer a reason not to attack you. There won't be any adverse consequences.

So they attack just because this is a golden opportunity to dump a load of projection and projective identification on someone. It's a golden opportunity to feel powerful by having a powerful effect on someone. They feel great afterwards. They not only relieve their moral constipation by dumping their load on you, they get high off the power rush in trampling you or tearing you to pieces.

And what's to restrain those urges? Any morals? Any conscience?
So, if this has ever happened to you, you probably just had a close encounter with a malignant narcissist. Be glad that you had to serve as her toilet only once in your life.

If a normal person gets mad and breaks up with you, there is a reason. Maybe not a good or just reason, but a reason nonetheless - a reason you should wonder about and want to know. But a narcissist is like a thunderstorm. When a thunderstorm roars through you don't sit there afterward wondering what you did to provoke it, do you?

Authored by Kathy Krajco

December 2007
Dear Kathy,

The tragedy really, is what we do to ourselves. When a relationship ends abruptly and without recourse, we are left to question ourselves endlessly. "What did I do wrong? Why didn't I see it? How flucked-up must I be? Do I still have unconscious perceptions distorting MY reality?" The narcissist does not have to destroy us, you see. We are far too good at finishing their dirty work for them.
BUT, the fun-and-games aren't quite finished! O no! As you have written about the smear campaign recently Kathy, the narcissist continues his or her pleasurable pursuits destroying whatever credibility we might have earned for ourselves.

This is how the 'target' is isolated from bystanders who make the faulty assumption that we must have done something to merit the N's animosity.

If we defend ourselves, we are labeled 'defensive' and therein: guilty. If we do nothing to defend ourselves, we are labeled arrogant and therein: guilty. It's a catch-22---IF the narcissist is really good at their game, that is.

Of course, the clever Narcissist twists and turns the facts so that bystanders support the pitiable N who has been so 'hurt' by our misbehavior that she had no recourse but to protect herself from our maliciousness.

It can take years before we might realize what happened. Why? Because nobody wants to talk. Nobody wants to take a stand. Nobody wants to admit that they too, are vulnerable to being ruthlessly mistreated.

So...everyone pretends that it takes Two to taNgo.

Such an illusion as that serves Narcissists only too well. And we'd best all realize Narcissists are far more aware of how to USE people than we are.

I have learned the past few years, to relentlessly cut through my illusions about the world operating on a reciprocal basis of good will. It's been a hard lesson but until I could get this fact-of-life through my thick skull, the only thing waking me up was the roar of the Royal Flush. ~CZBZ

"CZBZ, you oughta blog!" Kathy replied.

And now I do.


P.S. Kathy Krajco passed away in 2008. I miss her clarity, brevity, forthrightness, and dedication to justice. She inspired so many and will never ever be replaced.

If you are interested in reading what she has to say about narcissism, you may want to copy articles you'd like to keep. Her website is no longer active; however, at this point in time (and who knows for how long), her blog is still accessible. Kathy Krajco's blog: What Makes Narcissists Tick

This link will connect you to CafePress where Kathy's book is still available for purchase: What Makes Narcissists Tick

P.P.S. This is a link to a PDF document of Kathy Krajco's book, What Makes Narcissists Tick. It's a huge file (over 500 pages), so be patient while it downloads!


  1. Amen.

    May she rest in peace. May we find peace.



  2. Hi,
    This was an awesome essay. I love your writing! I used some of it for one of my articles, "The Narcissist's Lover." Thank you for blogging!

  3. I am posting a reply by Stormchild, who still can't use the 'comment' feature on my blog:


    It's not just narcissists who pull this 'blow-it-up' thing, it's the stock in trade of borderlines too. They also take take take, and when it's their turn to give, tend to give you the back of a hand across the face.

    Both also have a tendency to show up all perky, pretending nothing ever happened, as soon as they need something from you again. Borderlines usually try this sooner than narcissists do, and have a truly amazing tendency to blow up in your face again, immediately, when you refuse to let them back in.

    Something I've noticed as the years go by: "I've always maintained that you don't know who's a friend until you're facing a crisis; then the people who stand by you are friends, those who cut and run are not. Over time, it seems there are more and more who cut and run. And of those who don't, entirely too many seem to be "Charity Preeners", primarily interested in helping so they will have something to brag about to others.

    Not a good sign, sociologically. Plain old decency seems to be a very scarce commodity these days.



  4. I love Kathy Krajco's writing - and I love your blog, CZBZ! BTW, for those who'd like a hard copy of Kathy's book, you can buy it here:

  5. Thank you for the CafePress link for Kathy's book, Anon.

    I'll add it to the blog entry.

    Thanks for dropping by---and I'm so glad you're enjoying my blog!


  6. Dear Louise,

    Nice to hear from you...and yes, may Kathy rest in peace and may we all find peace.

    Dear dogkisses,

    How nice to meet you and find your blog. I look forward to getting to know you on the forum!

    You are welcome to use, quote, snip, or copy articles I've written if they've helped you or might help others.

    We gotta help one another whenever we can!

    And Stormchild,

    As always, I appreciate your comments! You make me think, ponder, introspect, ruminate, and fester.

    haha...a little festering is good for the soul, right?

    Hugs everyone. Thanks for being here with me.



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