When I was a kid we used to sing “the salad song.” It was a song made up of random phrases from several songs strung together. If you start a song and someone else wanted to sing the salad song, you could end up sing a different song altogether because once the salad song gets started there’s no way to go back and finish what you originally intended. This is what Word Salad is like when you try to reason with a Narcissist.
In their right talking, self-protection process, the Narc will sing the same phrases over and over until you consider running with scissors or stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork. That’s because long before you thought of this confrontation, you were asked to play a game you can never win.
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Word salad begins when the Narcissist doesn’t recognize your boundaries and you imagine confronting them will give you a better relationship in the future. (Cue evil witch laughing in the background.) Of course be careful NOT to use the word confrontation because that will just derail the conversation into one about the evils of confrontation. According to the narc, confrontation is abusive. You will then be asked:
“Why do you have to be so confrontational? No one else in the family causes the trouble that you do!” This will be followed by a lecture on how nice everyone is but you. You might feel like shouting I am NOT your kind of people, but it won’t matter to the Narc.
Even if you are wise enough to avoid the C word, word salad will just take another turn.
You might ask the narc to stop treating you with disrespect. To which the Narc will answer:
“Disrespect? How interesting you use that word…remember that time you disrespected me in front of your teacher?”
To which you might reply:
“I was in seventh grade.”
And now the Narc has pulled you into their web:
“Of course it was seventh grade, but that just proves how disrespectful you’ve been your entire life.”
And if you are still crazy enough to imagine you can reason with the Narc, you might reply:
“I’d prefer to talk about our current relationship instead of events years ago.”
(Seems reasonable right?)
But the Narc will find a recent event to prove how you have shown a lack of respect:
“Okay, so how about the fact that you can’t even show up at your grandmother’s birthday dinner?”
Of course they leave out the fact that they planned the dinner on the spur of the moment, on another day that wasn’t even her birthday and you had to work that day. Be careful here, you might try to defend this by suggesting true respect would be to consult you before the party was set, but that will just take you down another rabbit trail which like all rabbit trails will lead you back to where you started.
All of the Narc’s circular reasoning and arguments are simply a distraction to make you wonder if you are the real problem, but let me state this plainly:
You. Are. NOT. The. Problem.
Of course you aren’t the problem. This concept only exists in the head of the Narc. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t do any of the things they accuse you of doing.
The Narc needs a scapegoat and you have been selected. (Unlucky you.)
Most likely you have been the scapegoat since you were five, but if this thought crosses your mind and you happen to mention how you were belted for asking for breakfast at five, the Narc will deny it and gaslight you by accusing you of false memory syndrome and then ask:
“Why do you always have to live in the past?”
By now you might start slamming your head in the deep freeze, wishing you had never thought of confronting the Narc. Meanwhile the Narc starts adding up all of your crimes since 1983. The Narc has a selective memory and while he doesn’t want you to remember the past, he brings it up whenever he thinks it will throw you off. Remember all of this word salad is not about trying to understand each other. The goal of the Narc is to keep talking past each other until you doubt your memories and yourself. It’s really all about mind control.
The truth is you can’t reason with unreasonable people, so next time you think of confronting the narc, just remember you are actually ordering a word salad–with a lot of baloney on the side.
Or maybe you could just save yourself the trouble and go No Contact.