Annie Lane: Narcissism in the family

Published 6:05 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Dear Annie: In reading the letter from “Bewildered and Heartbroken,” about managing a relationship with a difficult daughter-in-law, my reaction was — that could be me. We have had similar experiences with a relative.

It was a couple of years ago that a lightbulb experience happened that broke my heart. I immediately looked up the definition of narcissist, and it described my situation verbatim.

They will be charming at first and then gradually, due to wanting power, will create situations to distance a loved one away from their friends and family. The behaviors in our case were bizarre and would blindside us. Because we’d lived close by, we didn’t see the forest for the trees.

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Then we moved several states away. It took the lightbulb experience to finally shine on what had been happening for years and years. It helped to know “the why” of things happening and that it wasn’t us. We never could have done enough to live up to expectations.

I don’t have answers for that woman who wrote in except to say — just keep loving your son because he may need you in the future. Try to keep the channels open, and don’t shut him out due to his new wife. Distance is helping us, but in the meantime, we’re praying for healing.

— Blessings to Her from One Who Knows.

Dear Blessings: Narcissism is extremely toxic. Oftentimes, the person doing the controlling doesn’t intentionally know that they are being narcissistic, and the one being controlled doesn’t know they are in that relationship. It can be a challenging and unhappy way to live.

True love is not about being controlled or manipulated to believe that the other person is the most important thing in the world and that they can’t live without them. True love is also not being in a relationship where you are so insecure that the only way you can keep your partner all to yourself is to convince them that their previous life was bad, including their family and friends. No one wins in this type of a relationship. I wish the couple would wake up and get some professional help.

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Dear Annie: I have been deaf from birth and wear hearing aids. I can assure you that I know people with normal hearing who have problems with background music competing with the voices in films and television shows. I can testify that sometimes it is so bad that I cannot keep up with the voices, even with closed captions, because the background music or noise is so overpowering.

When that happens, no matter how bad I wanted to see the content, I just turn it off. It is just mind-numbing, and the people making these shows have no real appreciation of the audience they are playing to, and I really don’t think they care.

— Deaf in Illinois

Dear Deaf in Illinois: Thank you for your letter. That must be very frustrating, and I hope some of the people who make movies and TV shows pay attention and find solutions to accommodate the hearing-impaired community.

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