I used to be frightened of escalators as a small child, always worried my shoelace would get caught in the moving belt resulting in some imagined mortifying emergency.
I realized this weekend why I should still be wary of symbolic escalators- the ones created and occupied by narcissists.
As I wrote in my last blog, we got my stepson on Saturday (not our time) because his Mom was so out of control with him, we felt both parties needed a cooling off period. She and her boyfriend wanted to take him to their cabin and he refused to go. I can’t say I blame him, considering the dynamic that unfolded.
So, he came to our house. I would use the word “traumatized” to describe him to an extent.
And we had a great Saturday and Sunday morning. And then we waited… surely the Mom had cooled off by now. Surely, she would call or something to see how her son had been during the night and to let us know when she would return.
We hear nothing.
My stepdaughter is then dropped off at the Mom’s house as she had spent the weekend away. The Mom, before she left for the cabin, had told my husband that he would have to tell “Helen” what had happened and why “Henry” was with us.
He called “Helen” who came over to our house because she was lonely. When she found out we had Henry and why, she sat their silently crying. She said that it has been so bad in the house.
So there we all were- still no word from Mom. Surely, she would be returning at some point- right? It was her weekend with the kids. Surely, she was planning on being home for dinner with them or something??
She finally calls around 3. They had not left the cabin area yet. She conveniently turned a “cooling off” period into a “mini-vacation”. She told us to send the kids over to her house, they would be fine alone.
Sigh…as long as she was happy, she could care less about anyone else.
We take the kids to the pool.
Around 5, she calls, they are getting ready to leave. O.k. Around 5:45, she texts. An accident had happened and the road was closed. 7:00 still no sense of her arrival.
We order pizza and watch US win world cup!! At 8, when the games ends, Helen turns to us and asks, “Do you want us to leave?” Still no word from when Mom will arrive.
9:10 my husband calls his ex- and says the kids will simply stay with us the evening as she still is not home.
Long story? Yes. But, if you are going to heal or gain strength from tough situations, you must be able to NAME what has happened. Denial gives you no free pass. Word and awareness are what build your fortitude.
So, we went from taking Henry for a cooling off period to having 2 kids for 2 nights.
That, my dear friend, is the ESCALATOR EFFECT of narcissists. Narcissists will ALWAYS, ALWAYS escalate. I have never ever been in a situation in which a narcissist de-escalated the event.
I had not noticed this before. I do not regret taking the children this weekend in any way.
But this is what I forgot- I forgot the escalator effect and because of that, I had not kept anything in reserve.
I met Henry with open arms, thinking we just needed to weather the “cooling off” period. Well, the cooling off period turned to a mini-vacation, which turned into an additional child, etc.
I had not held my reserves back to meet the demands of the escalation. The escalation will ALWAYS be there with a narcissist. Our job is to realize this pattern and hold back some thing in reserve for the next increase in drama.
This way, rather than being exhausted and running on empty as things escalate, and they will escalate, we have something still left in the tank- not the for the narcissist (heaven knows they are not worth it) but rather for the fall out in our own lives and those we significantly care about.
I am not going to step on that escalator again without the full awareness of my shoes being symbolically tied and a confident stride that although I may not know where this ride is going, I have the reserves to take care of myself.
(Or maybe, I will just jam something in the escalator belt of the narcissist and bring all the drama to a screeching halt 🙂 )