WHAT IS A CIRCULAR CONVERSATION?
Let me start by saying these aren’t conversations. They are verbal competitions and even warfare. Narcissists don’t use conversations to find understanding and compromise. They use them to win. These conversations are extremely planned and manipulated. There is absolutely no such thing as spontaneity. There is no place for this to be relaxed and natural chatting. No, it is war!
I know in our household, in order for my husband to actually have a conversation with someone, it was like we had to go through some big ordeal. It was as though he was announcing to the world, in a very robot-like way, “We are now having a conversation.” Everything else had to stop. Everything had to be put down. Life ceased to exist….because NOW WE ARE HAVING A CONVERSATION. After making such an announcement, he would then sit quietly with his eyes closed for a couple of minutes, making everyone wait to hear his “great” words. It was almost like a ritual. I felt like the trumpets were going to come out of the sky, play a fanfare, and announce that the KING was about to speak. It was ridiculous and left everyone on edge. No one felt safe before a word was even uttered.
Then you never knew what the actual topic was going to be. It could be absolutely anything, from teeny tiny small to gigantically huge. One thing was always for certain though, he had been offended, and we were going to hear about it. These “conversations” feel more like monologues from a dictator, and they last just as long. Everyone else usually kept their mouths shut. Why? Because over time we had all learned one of our rights: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you.”
I have heard these circular conversations referred to as gaslighting, word salad, and verbal vomit. I prefer to call them conversations from hell. It is the most painful place I have ever experienced. I have never felt so alone and destitute as I have when trapped in one of these. And I do mean trapped. There seems to be no way out. Nothing you say will change the course. Nothing you say will turn it in a positive direction. The narcissist will unceasingly turn everything around and around, spinning forever in a bottomless pit of negativity.
You find yourself defending everything you have ever done, said, or even thought. You are defending a look you had or the way you breathed. Guards are up and active. Spontaneity does not exist. Reciprocity does not exist. There is no natural give and take because with a narcissist there is no give. Staying relaxed is nearly impossible. In the conversation, you feel like you just can’t seem to keep with the topic at hand because it changes so fast. One minute you are talking about your frustration that he isn’t helping with the yard work and the next thing you know you are defending why you didn’t cook dinner last night. It doesn’t matter that he said he wasn’t hungry. It is simply ammunition against you.
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