Today I am thanking the Narcissists. I did not want to give them too much attention in the previous post, in which I shared with you some of the journey I have been on these last couple years. In that post, I spoke of the lessons I have learned and the gratitude I have felt in the way of unconditional love and support and finding the courage to accept what is, what was and then ask myself ‘What do I want?’
But talking about my experience of narcissism is important and a big part of my journey. Because you, dear Narcissists’, came into my life just when you did. I had no idea you even existed before this. You came into my life when I already felt broken due to my own personal journey and because of the events at the time that came with immense loss and grief. Initially, I felt the timing of it was the ‘wrecking ball;’ the final chapter before my life as I knew it fell apart.
There are different levels of narcissism, ranging from someone severely egocentric in the way of self-importance and with an unwavering sense of entitlement, right through to the sociopathic narcissist. Sociopathic narcissistic behaviour, in my understanding, is when an individual deliberately and painstakingly exploits, fabricates and manipulates someone for their own gain with absolutely no remorse or empathy for anyone they have wronged. These individuals can be particularly dangerous, destructive and traumatic for the people they believe who stand in the way of their agenda, and for the actual individual they are seeking to control or punish.
Quite often, a narcissist will present themselves as charming, caring, upstanding, god-fearing people. Sometimes they present themselves as the ‘victim,’ and deliberately play to our human nature of instinctively wanting to support and protect the victim. They rally up an army of supporters, lawyers and flying monkey’s, who in essence, unknowingly enable their destructive and often ‘dark’ agenda.
I remember someone saying to me, ‘Just ignore them, don’t get involved.’ But if you are being targeted by one of these individuals, that is very difficult to do. Just like COVID-19, you cannot completely escape it, you must learn to live with it, identify it and manage it. We cannot indefinitely live in a state of fear or with the feeling of being under threat, if going forward with our life in a positive manner is our objection.
When it started, it was honestly one of the most confronting and threatening experiences I have ever had and it triggered me, that young girl who was bullied in her youth. My initial reaction was just that, I ‘reacted’… just as they want you to. Your reaction’ to being attacked will often be what they will attempt to use against you to gain support and to justify their accusations and their hidden agenda. They feed off your ‘reactions’ and the attention,’ like it’s a hit of heroin, creating one drama after another and bolstering their fragile and inflated ego, while furthering their agenda at the same time. They prod and provoke you in the most calculating of ways until you react, feeding their addiction and playing into their cycle of drama and sometimes, forgetting who you are in the process.
In hindsight, since identifying and educating myself about this type of abuse and the specific behaviour the narcissist will use to maintain a position of power and which almost always becomes a pattern over time, this experience has become one of the most empowering and valuable lessons I could hope for. In hindsight, its timing could not have been better.
A big part of my journey to transform my life is practicing being mindful of when the feelings I am having and the decisions I make are grounded in ‘fear and/or ego’ or whether they are from a place of ‘love or truth.’ How a reaction is most often ground in fear or ego opposed to a response which comes with being mindful of your emotions and consciously pausing before responding.
Having this experience when I did, was like the student learning the lesson in theory and then going out into the real world and putting the lesson to practice! This experience was the ultimate test of being mindful and less reactive. It was the ultimate lesson of knowing who I am and staying true to who I am; by setting boundaries, by keeping the ‘facts’ at the forefront, knowing what is true and what is not and recognising when I am being provoked, threatened or baited.
Since understanding all this and also through meeting a number of people who have experienced narcissistic relationships or like myself who has had encounters with such individuals, I have learned that there is one thing they all have in common despite each and every story being different. The ‘narcissist’ is the common factor. Narcissism has been given a label for a reason, because the same tactics and behaviours’ to throw you off balance and to control or punish you are demonstrated from one narc to another. That feeling of unease you have, or that something feels off, is not you imagining things. You are right.
Their tool kit to weaken you is a powerful one and is most destructive when you are not yet aware of what exactly is happening for you to be feeling like you do. You doubt yourself. You begin to believe that you are all to blame for the dysfunction in the relationship. Your support system, be it friends or family starts to change. One by one, the people who truly love and care for you are identified as a ‘threat’ or as someone negative for your relationship. You start to distance yourself from them so not to upset the narcissist in your life and because sometimes they convince you that their delusion in actual fact, is true. Over time, you are completely isolated from the people who care for you and the only person left in your lonely life, is the Narcissist them self…and they become your ‘everything.’ You begin to feel ‘less’ and the confidence and joy you once felt, is replaced by a new reality, of walking on egg shells and focusing completely on them and their needs and never your own.
In the worst cases, these dysfunctional relationships can leave you feeling like a shell of your former self and with a deep sense of hopelessness. Sometimes there are children involved and who are employed in the mind games and become a means of punishment when you do not do as they want.
So much of what a narcissist does, comes from a place of fear and ego. When you know this about them, when you see them for where they are in themselves, and not what they want you to believe about yourself and about them, or fear – that’s when you begin to empower yourself. That’s when you remember who you are and not who they think you are.