Have you ever heard of the term word salad?
If you have, then you know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t, you still know what I’m talking about because you’ve experienced it from your narcissistic ex!
Word salad is a term that was originally coined for people who are schizophrenic, describing how they would try to communicate but they would just string disjointed words together that didn’t make sense.
In the case of narcissists, word salad is a tactic they use on purpose for multiple objectives.
A covert narcissist is one who thinks he’s so great, yet he isn’t actually admired by many people. He manipulates situations in an underhanded way to get what he wants. Lots of crying, woe is me, poor me, I’m the victim, I’m the martyr.
Even when it’s obvious that he did something outright, he will find a way to blame someone else and be the victim.
This type of narcissist has an overwhelming deep sense of shame, and a massive void they can’t fill. They can’t handle this level of feelings and that’s why they’re always trying to pull you into their drama and project their shame onto you.
When you try to have a conversation with a person like this to work something out, you state the issue and the narcissist twists and turns the conversation and sends you down a trail that doesn’t make sense and has nothing to do with the original issue.
You leave the conversation feeling confused and awful; you aren’t sure what just happened and the whole thing was a waste of time.
You’ve just experienced word salad.
He pretended to answer your question but brought up something you’ve done in the past, or started making excuses about his stress at work or his terrible childhood. He’s deliberately trying to confuse you.
He wants to throw you off balance so you lose track of the original issue and he never has to face it.
You’re left questioning yourself and wondering how you’re ever going to get your point across, move forward in your healing, or advocate for your kids if you’re constantly reeling from his word salad.
The narcissist will use this tactic, especially when you’re in a divorce or custody battle.
He will trigger you with this word salad so that you’ll react. Things get heated and then he points at you to say that you’re a bully, you’re the abuser, you’re the one that has anger management issues!
They will use other tactics like blaming you for something he did (I only did that because…), making outlandish generalizations (you always, you never), deflecting (well last week you…), and circular reasoning where you just keep going around and around and never settle on anything.
You have to make a conscious choice to stop following him down these rabbit trails.
Nothing positive comes from these conversations and you will never get him to see your point.
Learn to recognize when he’s using one of these word salad tactics and stop it in its tracks.
The best way to handle word salad is to cut off all contact with the narcissist. However, when you share children with this person, that’s not an option. You have to talk to him.
So the next best thing is to go as low-contact as possible.
Do not engage in any face-to-face conversations with him unless it’s in your court order. This is the easiest way to get caught in word salad because nothing is in writing and it’s his word against yours. There is no need to speak directly to him, so keep things in writing, whether that’s in an email, text, or through a parenting app.
The narcissist doesn’t want you to know this, but you are in control of these conversations—way more than you realize. In module three of the Co-Parenting With a Narcissist Course, we talk about solid, concrete ways to communicate with a toxic ex. When you start to say, “No.” When you start putting up boundaries, he’s going to come at you again and again, relentlessly.
If you need help sorting through that word salad and forming responses that shut it down, get the Co-Parenting with a Narcissist Course and gain clarity and confidence in your communications with the ex!
If you want to discuss your specific situation, schedule a 1:1 session with me and we can work together to build your confidence so you can stand in your power.
God made you for this!
WANT TO RECEIVE WEEKLY EMAILS FULL OF ENCOURAGEMENT + ADVICE?