Is John a Narcissist or is John the victim of a Narcissist?

If Jane accuses John of being a narcissist, and Jane then tells Mark, Mindy, and Sue that John is a narcissist, and Sue (triggered by her own personal and painful experience of a romantic relationship with a narcissist from which she has yet to recover) then tells Tom that John is a narcissist, Mark (who is the child of a narcissist and has PTSD because of it) tells Robert that John is a narcissist, and Mindy (who doesn’t think she knows any narcissists but is frightened because she’s heard such frightening stories about them) tells Melissa that John is a narcissist – Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

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Melissa (who loves to gossip about others, yet hates it when others gossip about her) tells Letitia that John is a narcissist, Robert (who never liked John because Jane loves John and Robert loves Jane) tells Margaret that John is a narcissist, and Tom (who wasn’t listening when Sue was talking as he had his own problems on his mind which empathic Sue failed to empathically notice) tells no one (and is later accused by Sue of giving her the silent treatment, but she doesn’t accuse him directly, instead she tells Joan about it). – Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

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Letitia (who loves talk about herself, uses the gossip to start another conversation about herself) tells Mary that John is a narcissist (then she launches into a long tale about how she knew John was a narcissist because of this thing he once did to her), Margaret (who is in love with Robert, knows that Robert loves Jane, thus Margaret hates Jane) tells Lucy that John is a narcissist (and that Jane deserves that kind of karma), and Joan (who not only had to hear what a narcissist Tom is, also heard that John is a narcissist) decides to tell lots of people via her blog that her friend Samantha (a thinly disguised Sue) is a narcissist (as she is always accusing others of being narcissists, which Joan has read on blogs about NPD is often the sign of a narcissist). – Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

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In the meantime, Jane has decided that Mark, Mindy, and Sue are not the sort of friends she thought they were as they were not supportive enough towards her when she needed them to be.

When she called Mindy at work to discuss John being a narcissist some more, Mindy was brusque and told her that she didn’t have time to listen to her (what she actually said was – can I call you back later, I’m in a meeting – that meeting was for a possible promotion for which Mindy had worked very hard). – Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

When she tried to talk to Mark after turning up on his doorstep sobbing, he sat in silence (listening to her for hours) and she felt that he didn’t understand her pain as he had never had his heart broken by a narcissist (Mark rarely tells anyone that his parent is a narcissist, however he did once tell Jane. She reacted in the way that most people who haven’t had a narcissist as a parent do when a child says something unflattering about their parent. He never spoke about it with her again after that). Jane left Mark’s home wondering if perhaps he was a narcissist too, and this made her wonder if perhaps she was a magnet for narcissists. After Jane left, Mark found himself feeling the way that he always did after an interaction with his narcissist parent, as though he had somehow failed the other person, not been who they had wanted him to be for them, his efforts to be a good person had not been good enough, yet they were good enough to be branded as bad. Mark began to regret having told Robert that John is a narcissist, as he wasn’t certain who the narcissist was anymore. – Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

Whenever she spoke with Sue, Jane had the distinct impression that there was a competition going on between them as to whose narcissist was the worst (and could be upgraded to being called a sociopath). Whenever Jane discussed a narcissistic crime which John had committed, Sue would interrupt with a much worse crime which her narcissist-sociopath ex had committed against her. Jane could not win as Sue had been scouring the internet for information on NPD (especially the kind which supported her story) for years, she was a member of several forums and communities for victims of narcissists, she collected quotes about narcissists, she watched every video on the subject, and sounded very knowledgeable when she spoke about the disorder and its effects on those who have a relationship with someone with the disorder. Sue saw herself as an unofficial expert on the subject and often remarked that she actually knew more about it than official experts because she had lived it whereas they hadn’t. When Jane questioned Sue’s assertions, Sue was hostile – in a similar manner to the way that Sue described the hostility of a narcissist, particularly her ex towards her. How dare Jane, a newbie victim of a narcissist, doubt Sue, a seasoned victim of a narcissist (who is no longer a victim but an activist against the evil that is NPD), and through doubting her, criticise her, invalidate her, in a narcissistic manner. – Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

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Maybe John wasn’t the narcissist but Jane was – a narcissist playing the victim of a narcissist.

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Sue’s attitude and words really hurt Jane very deeply. She had always seen Sue as a compassionate, empathic, highly sensitive person – as Sue often pointed all of this out about herself and Jane had no reason to question Sue’s version of herself… until now, when Jane needed Sue to be all the things which she claimed that she was. She needed Sue to walk her talk, but Sue’s walk was her talk… or so it seemed to Jane.

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Even though Jane was deeply wounded by her last interaction with Sue, and suspected Sue of being a narcissist, one of those ones who isn’t as obvious to spot… what were they called again? She also felt grateful to Sue, as her eyes had been opened to a new possibility. Perhaps John was not a narcissist, maybe Jane was.

Jane didn’t really want to consider this option, however… Sue’s stories about her ex made Jane realise that John wasn’t as bad as she had thought he was. She had been very angry with him… she was finding it hard to remember why. They had had an argument, and things had escalated from there. All those little things which had annoyed Jane about John had come together and formed a giant annoyance.

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– Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

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John was an introvert and Jane was an extrovert. He was often silent when she wanted to talk. He wanted to stay at home when she wanted to go out. He was a pessimist compared to her, she was an optimist or at least she worked at being a positive thinker (followed all the advice of the Positive Thinking movement) and found his realist approach to life to be a downer, toxic to her need to be constantly on an upper. Her idealism, which was prone to tip over the line into perfectionism, found his acceptance of imperfection and chaos to be irritating to her need for perfect order, to control what was uncontrollable.

If a glass which was part of a set broke, he just shrugged, cleaned up the mess, and moved on – he occasionally suggested that the glass had broken itself, and no one was to blame for what was meant to happen – whereas she would feel her entire world fall apart, shatter with the glass, and its pieces would dig into her as though she had stepped barefoot onto a shard – she then had to get rid of all the other glasses and buy a new full set or else she’d feel that somehow she was settling for less than she deserved.

Jane sometimes felt that way about John. That she deserved better than him. That she had settled for him because she didn’t want to be alone. She wanted to be loved and he had offered to love her. He wasn’t Mr. Right, he was Mr. He’ll do for now. And she had tried to turn him into Mr. Right for her. He had gone along with it… and perhaps he’d done that for her and resented her for not accepting him as he was, for wanting him to live up to the potential which she projected onto him, to be better than he was… but what if… he was better than she thought he was. What if he was actually better than her, rather than her being better than him.

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John was oil and Jane was water. Is one better than the other, is one right and the other one wrong? Depends on which one you are… maybe.

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Jane was uncomfortable with this train of thought, but maybe she needed to be, maybe her comfort zone was only comfortable for her and everyone else suffered for it, was uncomfortable because of it, but put up with it for her and her needs of them to be who she wanted them to be for her, so that she could see herself the way that she wanted to see herself.

Jane decided to go online to get a second opinion, because she could do it anonymously (was her need to be anonymous another sign of her narcissism – to be who she was not, present another false persona). She was frightened. If it turned out that she was a narcissist… narcissists were considered evil, horrible beings who made life hell for everyone else, and there was no cure for it. She decided to face the worst while hoping for the best.

The second opinions which she got left her more confused than clear on the matter. Many of those who answered her questions only left her with more questions. It seemed as though the parameters for what defined NPD kept changing. The DSM-V didn’t help because it was too vague, the kind of vagueness which left her wondering if perhaps everyone was a narcissist, some knew it and some didn’t, some accepted it and some denied it, everyone put a spin on it to suit them and their version of reality.  She was not the only one who questioned the DSM-V (if she had been, she could have dismissed it or seen it as yet more proof that she was a narcissist in denial), even those in the professions of the mind were doing so – Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Rethinking What We Know.

Then Jane came across this article –  19 Ways to Tell if You Expect too Much in Relationships  – and even though she scored highly which made her realise that she had been very narcissistic in her relationship with John, the situation wasn’t hopeless. The hope or hopelessness of it depended on her. She could learn from what had happened and choose to change herself in a natural way or choose to continue on her present path, staying exactly the same yet expecting things to change miraculously on their own. Still expecting other people to change themselves to satisfy her, how she perceived herself and others, reality and so on.

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Einstein - repetition:insanity

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The first thing which she could change was her tendency to try to change others to suit her expectations which inevitably led to her being disappointed in them, and also with herself for choosing such a disappointing person with whom to be in a relationship.

She may judge those she loved for being unworthy of her love (which she wanted to view as special), but she judged herself even more for falling in love with those she eventually deemed to be unworthy of her love – which then meant that she needed someone to blame (other than herself, which she did anyway). Maybe she needed to accept them as they were and take more time getting to know them, who they really were, rather than expend her energy on expecting them to take the time to get to know her, and to prove to her that they knew her by catering to her needs, and live up to her expectations, demands, of them for her.

Jane felt a a ray of sunshine break through the dark clouds which had been a part of the weather of her life for a while.

Did it matter if John was a narcissist or not? Did it matter if Jane was a narcissist or not? Surely what mattered is what you do with those sort of questions when they enter your conscious awareness.

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Jane couldn’t do anything about John, John was John, and he was responsible for himself. However Jane’s opinion of John was her responsibility, something which she had neglected to realise before, she had considered her opinion of him to be his responsibility… and his opinion of her? If she was honest with herself, she really didn’t know what the answer to that was. She did try to manipulate his opinion of her in the past, and his opinion of her did affect how she behaved with him, and with others. More often than not, if the opinion was a bad one in her opinion, she would go out of her way (and often not be herself but pretend to be someone else) just to prove him wrong.

Jane realised others might be doing this too. Was her opinion of others (or their perception of her opinion of them) causing them to act out of character to prove her opinion wrong when her opinion was viewed as negative by them? And if her opinion was viewed as positive, did it pressure them into living up to her ideals of them, which they might fail to do and therefore think badly of themselves.

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Jack and Jill

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Jane found herself feeling very confused by the dynamics involved in relationships… did she ever think it would be simple?

Perhaps what she needed to do was to take a time out from all relationships except one. Take the time to get to know herself and to have a better relationship with herself, to get to know herself better. Her relationship with herself was the seed from which all her relationship with other grew. She needed to learn to accept herself as she was, to learn to love herself as is (including that she sometimes hated herself as is)… rather than as she wanted to be, as she wanted to see herself… for the purpose of how she would be seen by others, and therefore loved or hated by others. She had spent more time focused upon trying to control how others felt and thought about her, on controlling herself to control them, than she had on… finding out what would happen if she let things flow naturally. She really didn’t know what would happen if is stopped trying to be in control and let spontaneity take over.

Maybe now was the time to do that.

Jane felt rather good about this decision… albeit a bit nervous. She was leaping into the unknown. Why was she an unknown to herself?

She didn’t wait for an answer, instead she just smiled, a smile for her eyes only, and took a leap of faith in herself.

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So.

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– Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

– Is Jane a narcissist? Or is Jane the victim of a narcissist?

Either or. Either black or white. Neither nor. Neither black nor white. Both. Ambiguous. Shades of both, which cancel each other out, criticise or complement (and compliment) each other.

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You decide. The choice is yours.

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the pointing fingerWhat you do with those three fingers pointing back at you, depends on you.

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*all characters aren’t purely fictitious, they’re based on myself, on self-reflection, and observing the phases I have been through while exploring NPD from a personal, interpersonal, and impersonal perspective. I am a child of narcissists (according to me), I walk a fine line between being a narcissist and not being a narcissist, which way is which can be hard to tell sometimes, as narcissism is a natural human trait and phase of human development – sometimes it is healthy to be narcissistic and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we are a narcissist to someone else because we are thinking of ourselves when they want us to think of them, and other possible optional reasons.

**pause before you judge yourself and others, and see what can be learned from what is here, now, as is.

***inspired by World Economics… Explained with 2 Cows

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