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Not Playing that Game
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"Not playing that game" has become something of a mantra for me recently. If I were in the Landmark Forum, I suppose it would go something like, "Not running that racket." Bottom line, for me, is that N pushes my buttons and I react as I always have done, a process both frustrating and corrosive.

I'm working on alternate responses. Offering a range of other approaches to the problem or situation, and if one of those is not deemed acceptable by himself, then refusing to play the games he has dreamed up with his legalistic mind.

Sample: I suggested a companion. The VA has authorized funds for Aid and Attendance for him. This person's job is usually to help the patient dress, talk to him, take him for walks, feed him, take him to the bathroom and so on. N has said no, he doesn't want the companion; the VA nurses and nurses' aides are supposed to do those tasks.

I explained to him that yes, they do those tasks for him, but they have several patients for each worker, and he has to wait his turn (a narcissist is too important to wait his turn). A companion would be there at your elbow to help you immediately.

No, because the companion couldn't be there all the time. Well, I said, wouldn't three days a week be better than no days a week?

No, he said, but what he really needs is a companion who can read and write and help him compose his many letters of complaint to the VA about all the mismanagement and mistreatment (i.e., poor service).

When I asked him about mistreatment, what it boiled down to was that he doesn't get immediate help when he calls for it. When he wants his ice water, he wants it NOW, dammit. When he wants help moving from the bed to the chair, he wants help immediately, not five or 10 minutes later. Narcissists do not wait gracefully.

I explained that often the nurses in this facility are dealing with terminal patients and they have time critical needs. So he has to wait--and his time sense is all messed up (Parkinson's effect)--so he thinks he has been waiting hours, when it's really 15 minutes or so.

Plus they check on every patient every hour, scanning their wrist bands, so I know he hasn't been left unattended for hours. Then he turns around and complains that they are too intrusive, constantly checking on him and interrupting him (as if he were doing something important).

But...he won't have a companion. He wants those on staff to help him, as is his right.

I can recite this in so much detail because we've had this conversation over and over. I finally realized it was one of his games, closely related to the one we used to play when I wanted to pay someone to come to my house once a week to help me with the heavy cleaning--

No, I was the wife; I was supposed to do it. Never mind that I was working full time while he was a home "writing the book". Mostly spending his time in girlie chat rooms and re-loading software or the operating system on the computer (he could spend days taking the computer apart and then putting it back together again incorrectly).

When I would ask him to help with the housework (I just wanted him to load the dishwasher and run it) he would respods with another of his rackets: "So you don't want me to write the book." Meaning his helping with the dishes would prevent him from writing. As if.

Then he wonders why I'm angry, why I won't participate in the games any longer. I figured 20 years was enough.

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