Warriors, let’s talk about Narcissists. They come in many different varieties, and trust me, just because you’ve been exposed to one or two doesn’t mean you’ll notice one of a different variety. There is so much to discuss on the topic of Narcissists alone that we could be busy for years to come before we fully explore it.
As a primer to learn about Narcissists, there’s a fantastic blog written by Dr. Dan Neuharth. It’s where I send anyone who needs to learn more about Narcissists. You may not know it, but if you’re over the age of … let’s say … being born, you’ve dealt with Narcissists, and chances are 100% you will run into them in the future. If you are wondering whether or not you’re in a relationship with a Narcissist now, start with this blog post. Dr. Neuharth’s explanations are well done and very easy to understand.
I mentioned in an earlier blog that I decided several years ago to “divorce” my mother. I have a compelling reason for doing so: Look up Extreme Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the dictionary and you’ll see a picture of my mother (whom we call the “Queen Mary”). Well, maybe not really her picture but it would fit right in there.
She is a classic Narcissist: manipulative, deceitful, arrogant, greedy, mean, grandiose, beauty-conscious … oh, let me count the ways she is a classic narcissist! Needless to say, my life was filled with chaos until that wonderful day a few years ago when my favorite post-trauma specialist asked me several questions that changed my life.
- How long have you known your mother? All my life.
- Has she always behaved this way? Yes.
- How old is she now? 84 (at that time).
- Is she going to change? Nope. Never.
- Can you live with who she is and have a close relationship with her? Not only No, but Hell No.
And on that day, he set me free. Well not completely free – there are still some residual effects of being raised by a soul sucking vampire, but for the most part he set me free. And, because I had that experience and knew about her particular strain of Narcissists, I erroneously believed I could spot a Narcissist a mile away.
I. Was. Wrong.
Enter my soon to be ex-husband. The one I refer to as “Walkaway Bob”. He’s a different kind of Narcissist, and I didn’t realize it until it was too late.
Walkaway Bob started out being extremely charming, seductive, smothering, and, love-bombing. I had never heard of love-bombing so I was clueless. I have always had a tendency to be too trusting, and he read that aspect of my personality very well in order to use it against me.
We married quickly (another sign of love-bombing). Don’t get me wrong – I was completely head over heels for him, and stupidly was 100% in favor of rushing into the marriage. I thought I had found my soulmate. (In hindsight, I probably did since I’m an Empath and a Highly Sensitive Person – we were a perfect match!)
Walkaway Bob explained away the multiple short term marriages, and only in hindsight did I realize that he always portrayed himself as the victim. In truth, we married so quickly that I simply didn’t know about a lot of his other, non-marital, short term relationships. Hence the fact that I now fully abide by the old cliche, “Marry in haste; repent in leisure“!
The “honeymoon phase” lasted about a year and a half. As long as I was totally feeding his narcissism and focused solely on him, everything was wonderful.
But real life intervenes, and so it did for us. I got very, very sick and began noticing his increased negativity, isolation, introversion, victim mentality, and, changeability. In public, he put on a huge front (and still does) – always playing the fun-loving, upstanding, “Brother Mason“, great guy. Behind the scenes, his true colors were beginning to show. Nothing suited him, and nothing I did was ever enough to please him or help him be happy.
In the end – the last year and a half to two years of our marriage – he turned into what Dr. Neuharth describes as a “depriving Narcissist“. He simply withdrew everything – all affection, all communication, all effort, etc. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do. I was lost.
I look back now and see it all so clearly. Of course, my clarity now has something to do with his admission in the end that he married me for my inheritance.
So is Walkaway Bob a Narcissist, a Sociopath or both? I’m not qualified to answer that question from a medical or psychological perspective. I do know that, according to my research, he exhibits the tendencies of a Narcissistic Sociopath.
There’s a great book on the subject of being married to a Narcissistic Sociopath which I highly recommend – A Beautiful, Terrible Thing by Jen Waite. Her book really helped me understand what I had been through, and the man I had married.
The garden variety of Narcissist is sometimes difficult to spot. These Narcissists can be particularly squishy because it’s difficult to tell whether they’re just self-centered or full blown, regular Narcissist. I ran into one of those a few months ago. I decided I just am not up for even the possibility of another Narcissist in my life so this time, I walked away. I guess I have my mother and Walkaway Bob to thank for being able to spot it before we got too enmeshed with one another!
So don’t feel badly if you’ve been fooled. And seriously, don’t feel badly if you’ve been fooled AND believe you should know better. They’re so good at what they do, and they feed on people who are committed to having open hearts. In particular, Narcissists thrive on anyone with co-dependent or enabling tendencies and most assuredly they feed best on Empaths. If that’s you, the more you know, the better equipped you will be to deal with them early on.
Next time, we’ll discuss the No and Minimal Contact Rules for dealing with Narcissists. My life has been so much more peaceful since following these rules with my mother, although I do admit now that she is 90 years old and beginning to show the signs of Alzheimer’s, it’s difficult. I trust my judgment on this one – I’ve learned the hard way!
Stay tuned for Part 2.