October 16, 2:05 p.m. (my time)…That’s the last time I received a comment from my uncle on the play notification I posted on FB. Almost two entire days of silence. This morning, of course, there was an email in my mail. One of his mass sends to friends and family. The email was a picture of a patch – one of those embroidered things people put on their shirts and jackets to make them feel important (like a Boy Scout). The pic was two buzzards, with the caption ‘patience my ass – I’m gonna kill something’, and I can’t help but feel I had at least a little to do with the level of frustration and anger it reveals. Side note: my DNA sister was the first to respond to my uncle’s email, posting a laughing meme back (her communication style is exactly the same as his, so no big surprise there).
The following is the conversation in full. I’m copying it here to make sure I don’t lose my words, because this is one of those RARE times I actually shut up the narcissists in my family by turning the tables on them, and I want to remember it.
uncle: I imagine this will be funny…..sorry, I won”t be in that area then. LOL
me: What’s so funny that you put ‘LOL’? You didn’t make a joke.
uncle: K-, Yes I did….when I said, I won’t be in that area then. That was my joke.
me: Oh. But you don’t live in the area. In fact, you live on the other side of the world – a fact I know. So…where’s the joke?
uncle: you need another cup of coffee Ms. !
me: What does my caffeine level have to do with our discussion? And why are you trying to change the subject and blame me for your poor “joke”? A joke is supposed to be amusing – yet your original statement, “I won’t be in that area then” isn’t amusing, it’s simply a fact. There’s no cause for laughter. No cause unless you feel uncomfortable for some reason. Shifting attention to my caffeine intake is simply a distraction from your discomfort. Why are you uncomfortable? ..Plus, get it right. I live in Rotterdam, not Amsterdam.
uncle: I was hoping some caffeine would wake you up and you would see my joke…;.clearly you have seen my joke all along. And….I won’t br in Rotterdam to see the show either.
me: Actually, I don’t see your joke at all – which is why I queried you in the first place. However, if you’re referring to me noticing your discomfort, yes, I did see that. It’s pretty obvious. I also noticed you continue to sidestep my question: why are you so uncomfortable?
uncle: I’m not uncomfortable…..just made a joke about the show sounds good but I won’t be in the area to see it. I thought it was a funny comment.
me: Well, we already established it wasn’t a joke. You didn’t say anything unexpected or funny even tho you keep insisting you did. So you’re either uncomfortable for some reason, or the LOL isn’t actually because there’s a joke in your statement, but because you’re making it into a joke. Returning to the stage is important to me. Why do you feel the need to make it into a joke? I don’t understand. Please explain.
Since asking him to explain himself, he’s been silent (other than the patch email today). Hallelujah! I called him out on it and didn’t let him get away with SHIT. Notice how I turned things on him? Needling him with the idea that he was uncomfortable? That was deliberate. I wanted to wind him up on that point, knowing it wasn’t on the mark, so he’d admit he wasn’t uncomfortable – which led him straight to the point I was making: he was being a bully. There was nothing funny about his comment; he was belittling me. Note: he didn’t like my post about the upcoming production. He just made his ‘joke’. And the fact that, half way through the conversation when he realized I was getting the upper hand, he had to make ANOTHER joke just showed that yes, his goal was to belittle me. That joke was all about ‘you’re not even worth replying to; I won’t answer you directly, just make a silly joke with you the butt of it’. The last few sentences are the real corker: Returning to the stage is important to me. Why do you feel the need to make it into a joke? I don’t understand. Please explain. Straight up statement: you’re making fun of me; why? Explain yourself.
Oh, how I made him run!
Distilled down, here it is:
- Destroy their first statement. This isn’t true because… Stay calm, and state the facts.
- Explain how, if their first statement isn’t true, then the following must be what’s really going on. This is where the turn happens. We already established it wasn’t a joke. So you’re either uncomfortable for some reason, or the LOL isn’t actually because there’s a joke in your statement, but because you’re making it into a joke.
- Push the alternative you know isn’t true. Why are you so uncomfortable?
- Make them admit the false alternative is false.
- Point out that the only thing left is precisely what they don’t want to admit to: they’re being an asshole. Don’t say asshole. Don’t accuse them of being mean. Again, turn it. This is important to me. Why do you feel the need to belittle it?
- Ask them to explain themselves.
The sheer I wanna get up and do a jig JOY I feel over mastering one conversation with a family member!! If only someone had told me it was THIS easy to shut them up!
Six easy steps to stopping a narcissist cold.