This is a recycled post from over a year ago but I feel it is well worth repeating, especially for those of you who haven’t yet left the relationship and you are suffering from self doubt and the narcissist has you confused and is telling you that you are crazy.
Narcissists are known for using gas lighting to induce confusion and self doubt, anyone involved with someone they suspect is a narcissist should be keeping a journal. Here is the post:
For most of my life I didn’t keep a journal, who has time for journaling? Especially when you have a narcissist stirring up all kinds of drama in your life. I used to think too that my emotions were too raw and there was so much shit going on I didn’t have the energy to write it all out, or I would think, “I’ll write it down tomorrow.” But tomorrow I would forget and then when I did remember I forgot details like exact times or wording.
That is until I realized I HAD to journal or lose my mind OR just give in to James and let him spew his lies.
James always journaled, not every day and there were years he didn’t journal at all but for the majority of our relationship he journaled and his journals were considered gospel, if it was written in his journals it was fact and it was not up for debate.
Admittedly in the beginning I was very naive and thought our relationship would run much like other relationships I had plus we had discussed every aspect of a relationship before moving in together because we (I) wanted to be on the same page with our expectations. I didn’t have a child at home any more, we were going to be two working adults living together; I thought it was wise to discuss some basics so we knew what each expected. In previous relationships I had been the main wage earner, handled the finances, did the yard work, housework and all the cooking and I expected to be more equal partners with James and he agreed wholeheartedly. I like a clean house, that does not mean I LIKE to clean the house, neither did he but we agreed a cleaning woman would be well worth any money it cost us. We also agreed that I never cooked on Friday nights. I have had that rule since I was with my 1st husband in 1980 and never had a man argue. I didn’t think it was out of line. I worked full-time and deserved a night off cooking. I didn’t care if it was crackers and cheese as long as I didn’t have to cook it. Of course he agreed and I had no reason to think he wouldn’t follow through; after all no other man had ever balked.
It took a while but I finally figured out that James’s word was worth zip! and he would change whole conversations to suit his agenda. At first I thought it was just me misunderstanding, or not explaining myself clearly. I would explain again and again he would twist my words or deny ever having the conversation and I started to get frustrated, my voice would get louder and higher pitched and the tears would start. You know how it is when you are trying to explain yourself and someone is twisting your words and just not understanding the simplest things or taking offense to some simple request. He would keep his voice very low and mutter things under his breath and I got louder trying to make my point. Of course I sounded like the psycho bitch, I truly felt I would go insane if I wasn’t already.
He kept track of the finances on Quickbooks on the computer, (it was my computer when we moved in together but soon became “his” and then he passworded it so I couldn’t get on it at all and even if I did get on the computer I was not allowed into Quickbooks). I had never kept track of who owed who what in any of my relationships, we had always pooled funds and paid the bills, if there was money left over we decided what to do with it. If we wanted to buy something we discussed it.
After we were living together finances became our major reason for fighting, mostly because he was always accusing me of spending “his” money on frivolous things and if you were to talk to him now he would tell you he supported me for the whole relationship. I swear sometimes they tell the same lie so many times they believe it themselves. (I worked for most of our relationship and the only time I didn’t work was because he had disabled my vehicle so I couldn’t work.)
I am a fairly frugal person in many ways, I drank wine at that time and a cheap 1L bottle was fine for me and if I had a vehicle I would go and buy my own but when I was stuck at home he would go to the liquor store and buy an expensive bottle of wine that cost as much as 3 of my cheap bottles. I rolled my own cigarettes and he bought them by the carton. He told my son that my drinking was costing him $1000 a month, of course it was all recorded in Quickbooks, which I had no access to. Until one day he forgot to sign out and I was able to check his figures. His balance in Quickbooks didn’t match what I figured he should have so I started going over the amount and realized he had not recorded one of his paychecks for around $990. How could that be? how could he have missed recording almost a thousand dollars and still show a balance? The more I dug the more I found (the reason why I became such a snoop, I kept finding shit and it was always way worse than anything I had imagined) I realized he hadn’t entered most of his booze receipts, had entered some of mine two and three times, he had charged me $535 for repairs on my Prelude but the bill was for $335. I had been in banking for 11 years and worked in an accounting office for 12 years so I am a bit OCD about things balancing and I spent the whole day “fixing” his mistakes. I went out to his shop and found a ton of booze receipts that he hadn’t recorded and once I got everything entered properly he was in the red so I entered that pay stub and he balanced to what I figured he should have. Needless to say he was not happy I had “helped” him and he made sure to never forget to sign out again. (I was dumb, I was too honest. Whenever I discovered something I would tell him what I had found and I should have kept my mouth shut because then he just hid things better)
It is so foreign to a normal person to spy on their loved one, to not trust them and having to be suspicious of everything they say and do, so a normal person feels guilty, even though they have done nothing wrong. The narc will use that guilt against the victim;
By a show of hands………How many of you have heard your narc say something like, “I can’t believe you don’t believe me! I can’t live with your paranoia.” or ” I can’t believe you snooped, I thought you were better than that.” or “I am so disappointed in you.” or “and I trusted you!” and you ended up apologizing for snooping and finding out he’d been lying to you.
It seemed the only thing we argued about was the money, I was upset he didn’t come to bed at night but that hurt my feelings and I usually cried, I didn’t start fights, I hate fights and I always tried to discuss things from a “I feel” perspective (the way they teach you in communicating effectively classes) so the only time we fought was when he got angry about money.
He would demand I hand in receipts for every dime I spent and then lose them. So out of self-preservation I started keeping track of my own spending and when he gave me cash and when I gave him cash. He had this cute little trick where he would get me to pick up his cheque for him and deposit it in the bank and then take out cash and bring it to him. It had two purposes, to keep me busy running errands for him and later he would insist he gave me his whole cheque, and then demand I answer with a yes or no. Well, if I said no, he called me a liar, but if I said yes, it was a lie also because I didn’t keep any of the money. If I tried to explain I brought the cash to him and said, “Yes but……….” he would scream in my face. “I said, yes…..or no……. it’s simple Carrie. What are you trying to hide? YES or NO! did you pick up my pay cheque?” My stomach still gets knots in it when I think about those fights. I would get so frustrated.
He would start in on me about some money I had spent or owed him and I wouldn’t know what he was talking about, he would refer to his “records” and show me his figures which were a total fabrication but I had no way to prove it. OR he handed me an itemized invoice for money he said I owed him from when we started dating.
I had lost my job by then and there was no way for me to pay him the money yet I figured that if I just paid him the money he said I owed I would keep track of my finances better and it would never happen again. So I sold my car and paid him the thousand and something dollars he said I owed (He had already taken possession of my computer and big screen TV for debt he said I owed him.) When I handed him the cash I asked, “Am I paid up now? Do I owe you for anything?” He said no I didn’t owe him anything. I made him repeat it, “Are you sure I don’t owe you any more money?” and he said yes. I was SO relieved, finally that was dealt with and we wouldn’t fight about it any more.
You can imagine my frustration when it wasn’t even two weeks before he was badgering me for money I owed him.
I got one of those Day Planners where each day has its own page and every day I would record, finances and things like; whether he came home that night, if we had sex, if I cried, if I nagged at him, if he hit me. More than once I was able to go to my Day Planner when I was being accused of; always crying, always being angry, never having sex, and read to him entries like, “JC and I had sex last night, I sure love him I am hopeful this is a sign he is going to try.” or “I haven’t cried for 4 days, JC and I have been getting along.” “I had supper ready and JC didn’t come home all night.” “I bought JC and I supper out.” He hated that. Then he would take my journal and write in his own entries. At one point he destroyed them all so I only have journals from 2006-1010. So be forewarned, he won’t like the fact that you journal and will destroy them if he has a chance.
It didn’t stop the lying though or the fights about what had been said and what I had misunderstood. I remember one time particular after I had sold my car. The wospos had traded his antique 1970 Chev Sprint for a flat deck truck and was hauling scrap cars, he was forever getting perfectly good cars given to him and every single time he would come in all excited and tell me he had brought my new car home. There were several cars I was thrilled with, some of them antiques, some muscle cars but my enthusiasm was quick to fade because I would no sooner register the car in my name, which cost $18 every time; and he would have sold it. A person would think, “Why would he bother to put it in my name if he didn’t intend on giving it to me?”
1. Because it costs $18 every time and he was getting a lot of cars
2. If he registered them there was a paper trail when he did his income taxes
3. There was the delicious bonus of getting my hopes and dashing them again.
The neighbor Chuck who the wospos and I had gotten to know quite well, would laugh when he saw the wospos’s truck coming with a car on it and say, “OH look! JC has brought home your new car!” then stand behind the wospos’s back giggling as he told me this was going to be my new car and I needed to register it. If I didn’t register it I was told, “Fine, so you don’t get a car.” So it went for a long time. THEN he came home and said he had just bought me a new car from his buddy Jim (the apath I have talked about in other posts) and we had to go pick it up. I was leery of course and when we got to Jim’s I stayed in the truck. The wospos asked if I wasn’t going to get out and see my new car. I hesitated but then he always said I was so ungrateful I thought I had better act enthusiastic just in case he meant it this time. Jim and his wife came out and we all sat on their patio having a smoke and they both were talking like it was my new car. Jim was selling it to JC for the price he had paid for it because JC had said I needed a good safe car to drive and he knew we were short of money. Could it be? was I really going to finally get my own car to drive? Dare I get excited? I went and looked at it and it needed to be cleaned but it was a cute little car and I made sure to show my gratefulness, kissed JC and gave him a big hug, told Jim and his wife how thrilled I was and I started to relax a bit. I gushed all the way home about how thrilled I was with my new car, how I was going to clean it the minute we got home. The wospos looked at me and said, “Your car? who said it was your car?” I was obviously gutted and he got that grin he used to get when he had pulled off a scam and sucked me in again.
Me, “But you said…..”
Him, “I paid $500 for that car, I bought it to sell it, NOT give it to YOU.”
Me, ” But Jim ….”
Him, “I don’t know where you got the idea it was your car, I never said any such thing.”
Of course I didn’t even have time to record it before he was denying it, so journaling doesn’t always prevent him lying. When it really comes in handy is months later when he changes history to suit his agenda, then you can go back and at least console yourself with the fact that you are not crazy and didn’t imagine events of the past.
It doesn’t have to be detailed, just point form is good enough, but make sure you record dates and times – we can usually remember an event but in a court of law you are going to need to know exact dates and times or else the N will lie his face off and you won’t have a leg to stand on. A judge loves someone who comes to court prepared, it makes his job so much easier and if a judge gets the feeling a person is lying to him; he doesn’t rule in their favor. You’ve watched Judge Judy, someone lying to her pisses her right off.
I have never been to court with the N but I went for a ticket I got from a Department of Transport officer (on second thought, I am sure he was a narcissist)who didn’t like scrap haulers, especially women scrap haulers and wrote me up for a bunch of bogus charges totally almost $2000. I walked out of the court room with my fines reduced to $200 and the judge gave me a year to pay them, all because I had pictures and the officer didn’t, he didn’t make details notes and I walked in with a file folder full of notes, receipts and character references, I had recorded every time I tried to call the officer and he didn’t call back, I had read the rules and regulations and was able to quote them, but had photo copies in the folder and the officer was unsure of them. I loved that and said, “You are unsure of the regulations?”
He said, “Well, yeah they changed and they are rather confusing.”
I said,”Do you recall when they changed the regulations?”
He replied two years ago.
Me: “So you are saying that at the time you wrote me the ticket, one year ago you were confused by the regulations?”
The judge looked at him and said,”Answer the lady.”
I asked him if he recalled what he had said to me when I tried to explain why the truck exhaust was loud and he said no he didn’t.
I got my notebook and read, “I don’t want to appear like I don’t care, but I don’t care.”
The judge looked at him and said, ‘You said that?”
DOT officer, “Well yeah, by that time she was crying.”
Judge, “Who was crying?”
I put up my hand and said, “Me your honor.”
Judge looking at the officer, “She was crying?”
DOT officer, “Typical woman, thinks she can turn on the tears and get off.”
I could barely contain myself and had to hold back from yelling, “I rest my case!!”
Judge with a look of disbelief at the DOT officer, “I think I have heard enough.”
Take the 5 minutes at the end of the day, preferably when the N isn’t around and hide your journal so he doesn’t find it; it doesn’t have to be well written, just notes jotted down, dates, times, pertinent remarks, the nights he says he is working late, the phone number you find in a pocket, anything that strikes you as odd, that makes your gut react in some way. When he tells you something that just does not make sense, make note of it and wait, the truth always comes out eventually and then you can go back and check your notes and verify you were right all along.
The N relies on a person’s memory fading with time so even when his lies are exposed it is easier for him to lie his way out of it. It won’t win an argument for you but it WILL verify what you have suspected and you are not crazy or imagining things and make it easier for you to feel justified in leaving his lying ass.
I am not telling you this so you will win fights with the N on a day-to-day basis, that is impossible, I am telling you to journal to save your sanity and hopefully get you out of the relationship before you truly lose your mind.
If you do have to go to court you will have documented evidence of any money you gave him, dates, times, of when he saw other women, dates times and pics of any abuse or material possessions he destroyed.
If you have children you will have recorded any abuse, missed visitation, that sort of thing.
It is so vitally important that you keep all and any evidence such as text messages, voice mails, emails, that sort of thing. Even if they are not particularly nasty, you might need to prove he was contacting you after you told him not to and now he is accusing you of harassing him. You never know what might come in handy.
Do not for a minute fool yourself into thinking you can split from a narcissist amicably, he may say he wants things to be fair and friendly; but remember, there is no such thing as fair with an N.
Besides, what does it hurt to keep a journal? if you never use it in court it just might be the reading material you need to remind yourself how crazy things got, after you leave and you are filled with doubt.