OK my dears. Narcissists (or psychopaths, I am not always sure how to distinguish between them) have caused me quite a lot of distress over the years.
These individuals are real and they do live amongst us. They exist in the real world, not just in the movies. They are real. Unfortunately, only their victims know (or well psychologically educated aware individuals but those are still in the minority in the current society). Especially the sophisticated covert narcissists are so skilled at mind-fuck and manipulation that it’s always the victim who ends up looking paranoid and crazy.
They are masters of impression management.
I want the situation to change and I want to use my experience to contribute to spreading the awareness about these kinds so that no one ever needs to repeat my mistakes. Seriously. Learn from my mistakes please. It doesn’t matter what the exact diagnoses is. If the person exhibits certain symptoms, if certain red flags appear, you need to understand what’s going on before you get into trouble. They are manipulative and callous and most of their aggressive behaviour is legally not punishable.
If you try to unmask them, make people see what they are doing, point to their damaging behaviours and want them to be accountable, they will do absolutely EVERYTHING to destroy you. Please remember that – ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING.
Maintaining their lovely cuddly façade for the outside world is the matter of life and death for them. Please understand that. They are absolutely unable to admit a mistake or a harmful behaviour. Please remember that. They will not see your point, ever. They will not own up their actions, ever. They actually really do enjoy hurting you. It’s not out of the lack of awareness or consideration. It is deliberate. Remember that.
I know it’s hard to comprehend. Because we normal people think differently. We can have our issues. We can have our blind spots; we may even have some narcissistic traits and sometimes behave irrationally. We can sometimes do crazy things. But we have an ethical base line. We consider being good people a norm and if we act in a way that harms someone, we feel bad. The narc/psychopath doesn’t have this ethical norm and absolutely doesn’t care if he hurts someone. For narcs, being good is something to brag about because it’s not a norm (one of the red flags is that they like to stress that they are the good guys and that they would never do this or that – that shows you that it is not a norm, it’s something to brag about, they have to brag about being decent, which for the rest of us is a given).
The fact is that a narc or psychopath gains pleasure from hurting people. In his mind, people are either all good or all bad (it’s called splitting in psychology) and if you find yourself on the all bad pile, they just really don’t mind if you suffer.
I want you to remember that. It sounds surreal, I know. Just today, I have realised that my flatmate stares at me a little bit suspiciously when I try to explain all this to her. I realised from her face she thinks I am paranoid. Usually, only people who have been through this fully get it. It only takes a few sentences for us to see the red flags and detect the behaviours but those who have not been there are really blind.
I don’t blame anyone for being so doubtful. A few years ago, before my lovely narc experience, I would think the same. Especially as the victim tends to be emotional and the narc puts on the super-calm super-charming façade, people for some odd reason tend to side with the narc. Plus the whole thing is so surreal that it really is difficult to believe. It certainly was for me.
But I would like people to be able to learn and spot the signs early so that they don’t need to clash as heavy as I had to.
I feel therefore it is my obligation to throw my two cents into the growing pool of online resources about narcissists.
The really dangerous narcissists are difficult to spot, especially the covert, super controlled covertly aggressive ones. They play they game well but you have to play it better.
You need to understand whom are you standing against so that you can adjust how you deal with them. The reality is only exposed to you if you are in some sort of a conflict with the narcissist. Maybe you are trying to point to their manipulative, uncooperative, hurtful behaviour. Obviously, as a normal, albeit flawed person, you expect that they might be doing that unintentionally. We all sometimes behave in hurtful ways. We all sometimes overreact. And if someone comes and tells us, we may first be defending ourselves but at some point we usually reach the ‘oh I see where you are coming from’ point. We acknowledge each other’s point of view and make amends if necessary. The problem is that if we try to implement the same strategy with a narcissist, we are on a sure way to hell. They will lie, deny, and distort facts, anything just to deflect the blame and project it onto us.
That’s the mind-fuck. You as the empathic person start doubting yourself and thinking that oh, maybe you are the problem. And because they are pushing your triggers (they really excel at this), you react and afterwards blame yourself even more. And that’s what they want – you are accepting their blame, their responsibility. Quite likely, they have been behaving in the hurtful way intentionally right from the start. Despite us wanting to believe it was out of the lack of awareness.
The more you engage in this cycle, the worse it gets. You might get really desperate trying to prove your point, looking even crazier to the surrounding world.
You need to be able to make the diagnosis, it doesn’t matter what the exact label is, you are dealing with a manipulative psycho and you have to adjust your game.
That really means to detach emotionally as much as possible. This can be really difficult and I would recommend anyone who is struggling with this to visit the website of Melanie Tonia Evans. She has some awesome resources how to achieve that.
The emotional triggers have to do with early childhood trauma and can be really powerful, especially if the narc is someone you have been in an intimate relationship with.
You have to detach as much as possible. You totally need to take your own ego out of it. Absolutely. If it’s a situation at work with a boss or a colleague, the best thing would be to go find another job. They will not allow you to professionally evolve and grow the way you would want and if you fight for your rights they just make your life really miserable.
The most difficult narcs to disengage from are those that you got involved with in an intimate relationship. There is a very good reason for that. The intimate relationship with a narc follows the well described pedestal – devaluation – discard cycle. In the early stages, the narc so-called love bombs you. They are the sweetest, kindest, most loving and supportive creature you have ever met. You are the love of their life, the match made in heaven, they would never leave you, they would never hurt you, they are so happy that they have finally found you, you are their perfect little goddess.
The problem is that it’s all fake. You are an exceptional source of narcissistic supply and the narc wants you in their life. He creates a false self, a façade, that matches your inner needs, because that’s how they operate.
At some point, they get tired of you, they don’t really have the energy anymore to maintain the façade and that’s when you finally get to see their real self, which is the total opposite of that super-kind, loving and supportive person you fell for. They are selfish, rude, emotionally cruel and you suffer from a massive cognitive dissonance, still expecting the nice, pleasant, kind person to re-emerge. The longer it takes for you to accept the reality, the more trouble you get yourself into.
It’s natural for us normals to struggle to accept such a reality. We tend to blame ourselves, thinking that maybe we have done something that hurt them, despite our best intentions. That’s exactly what they want. They want us to blame ourselves, doubt ourselves and shame ourselves.
We, normals, think that conflict can be resolved and if two adult people have a genuine heart to heart conversation, they can part in amicable ways, maintain positive memories and mutual fondness despite not being able to continue as an item. That’s not how it ends with a narc. There is no genuine heart to heart, no real closure. Ever. It can’t be because for the narc, a genuine heart to heart would mean to admit that they have been fooling you right from the start and that they have just put on an act because you seemed so valuable to them.
You see? The more you strive for this positive closure, the worse it gets. Stonewalling and silent treatment are popular weapons. You will feel annihilated and desperate. Still thinking that it all must be a misunderstanding. It’s not. It’s not you. It’s them. I don’t want to go into detail how much had to happen for me to finally hit the wall of the full realisation that I dedicated four years of my life to a nasty fraud who never really cared about me despite having brainwashed me with constant proclamations of undying love. A lot had to happen and coming out of this fog of manipulation was tough. I don’t want you to follow in my footsteps. It is my sincere intention for my experience to be used to help others. If a single person avoids repeating my mistakes, it all had a purpose.
I will write more about the red flags and sings, which should never be underestimated and the importance of getting early help if you find yourself entangled in a situation like this. I didn’t have a clue what I was dealing with and it was by a sheer coincidence when I eventually stumbled upon an article that put it all into perspective. The more resources are out there, the likelier for people to find the information they need. The more resources out there, the more difficult it will become for those who have not been through this experience to dismiss us, the victims, as crazy and paranoid. Shall that be my mission in the world.
It would be wonderful if all narcs could just have a big fat N tattooed to their foreheads. But that’s unlikely to happen. Therefore we need to learn how to spot them and totally detach from them as early as possible to avoid the damage.
Peace and love.