Playing the Peacemaker

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  • #665
    Renee Swanson

    As a codependent-in-recovery, I realized years ago that I truly despised conflict. I avoided it in every way that I could. Whenever conflict arose in the household, I did everything I could to put it out quickly.

    This is a tough issue to have when your husband portrays covert narcissism. He stirred the conflict every chance he got. He seemed to gain energy from conflict, like it made him feel alive. He could create conflict from the simplest things in daily life. No topic ever felt safe with him.

    In the “conversations” that then followed, he would take me place that is the most lonely, desolate place on the face of the earth! It is a bottomless pit with more negativity than I even knew existed. And I hated it with a passion. There was no escaping and no preventing it from happening again.

    Now that my marriage is over, one of the things I am working on is being less affected by conflict. It is a normal part of life and does not have to feel like the end of life as we know it.

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  • #22231
    Alex Delon

    Playing the Peacekeeper becomes a core focus for those in relationships with narcissists. Some argue that codependents share the responsibility for the unhealthy behavior, because their main focus of ‘keeping the peace’ is dependent upon the unhealthy family member’s behavior, like a teeter toter.

    They relate it to the alcoholic person and their enabling spouse, partner or parent who functions as a codependent.

    I get that point of view, but by definition, ‘responsibility’ has to do with a task or duty to deal with something or having control over someone, or the out come of a situation. If I’d had control of all that, I wouldn’t have become codependent! I didn’t know!

    To me, tagging the codependent as “responsible” implies that we’re supposed to KNOW what in the hell to do. Instead, we’re like the little Dutch Boy plugging holes in the dyke to keep the dam from bursting, and drowning our family in the valley below.

    YET…and THIS IS BIG…Once I came to understand the steps and turns in the Narcissist-Codependent Doo Op, the only way for me to stop, was to take responsibility and take control of myself. That meant opting out. Walking off the damned dance floor. I couldn’t do that and remain in the relationship. He wouldn’t have allowed it. article contained an interesting POV. She said: “Borrowing a phrase from my clinical mentor, Reevah Simon, “Whenever there is ongoing conflict, there is underlying agreement.” In other words, it takes two to tango, and the dependent or subservient partner may not be as weak, passive, or innocent as they appear.

    I hear the ring of truth in this loud enough to wonder that we need to recognize, and focus education about Codependent behaviors, as much as on identifying the narcissist’s patterns.That’s a key components of identifying codependence…our energy is focused on THEM.

    I’d love to hear thoughts on this topic. As a battle worn survivor of over 40 years of marriage to a narcissist, my real healing began when I began to understand what had driven me to stay. How I’d coped. How I could redefine my self and my world without fighting for his approval. Where in the hell was I hiding from myself?

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by Alex Delon.

    “Borrowing a phrase from my clinical mentor, Reevah Simon, “Whenever there is ongoing conflict, there is underlying agreement.” In other words, it takes two to tango, and the dependent or subservient partner may not be as weak, passive, or innocent as they appear.

    Well, that’s interesting. It kind of makes it sound like we choose this, by not choosing to walk away, which is the only other choice. Stay…or leave. But, in reality, there is fear and the fear can be simply paralysing. I mean, its like sitting in a car with a crazy driver going 150 mph. Are you going to open the door and jump out? You know its not going to end well. You fear crashing, but you fear jumping too, so you just keep begging him to slow down, because then everything will be ok, at least in this moment.

    Renee Swanson

    Coyote, that’s a great analogy! Thanks so much for sharing that!

    Alex Delon

    Well said, Coyote. While we grip the dash at 150 mph, we try to convince them to slow down, to take a look around, enjoy the scenery, the companionship, all the good stuff. For me, realizing-accepting that it would never slow down for long was my first step out. It wasn’t going to end well…ever, so I stopped begging. When he got bored, had to stop for gas, I quietly walked away.


    Whoa! Literal Flashbacks.
    I remember being a passenger and my ex was driving aggressively around 100+mph. All I could do is look out the window and talk myself down from the anxiety of the moment and self-talk, all you can do is trust his driving and the Universe. If its my time to die, so it is. So caught up in managing the anxious response, I couldn’t get to the clarity of the big picture.

    The reality was the same as the suggestion above. Knowing if I requested him to slow down I would be belittled, demeaned, and berated and he would have gone faster and used psychological abuse for the rest of the day. I couldn’t jump. I did decide no more road trips as I was in harms way…all the above. I credited the road trip only. The rest was part of the well known recipe.

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