I.e., if you're not going to make me feel bad, I'm going to be so nice to you that in comparison, you seem like you're an asshole. When my parents fought, I would put on improvised performances or fashion shows in our living room to try to distract them.Fussing over narcissistic people was how I kept in their good graces and how I felt safe.I'm proud to say that today, when someone gives me a gift, I can receive it with grace. I routinely employ phrases like "I'm overcommitted this week" or "I'm at capacity, but check back with me in a couple of months." When I say no, I don't over-explain or apologize profusely.
My dear friend Beth gave me necklaces with my dogs' initials on them, and I stressed out that she didn't know how much I love them.I could enter a party and within five minutes be in an all-consuming conversation with a thrice-divorced narcissist managing various addictions. Let's just say I've purchased more than one custom gift with a boyfriend's favorite NFL team's logo on it from Etsy. In recovery, I learned that the difference between codependence and being nice is motives.After a breakup, my take was always "I loved him too much." But it was very hard to convince me that I wasn't just, like, an amazing person. Essentially, if I drive you to the airport because you can't afford a taxi and I expect nothing in return, that's benevolent.But if I drive you to the airport secretly hoping you'll like me, owe me, won't abandon me down the line, or to control your perception of me (i.e., I want you to think I'm nice), that's codependent.I had always had a hunch something was wrong because I could give but I couldn't receive.