The Life Lessons which Narcissists Teach

good judgment:bad judgment

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Catch me on a bad day, when everything seems to be going belly up, when every minor irritation flares into a major inflammation, when I’m throwing myself a pity party and no one is invited because they’d be a killjoy to my misery, and you’ll find me tearing myself a new one for some fuckuppery I did or said.

Hindsight is a bitch of anal retentive perfectionistic proportions.

Foresight on the other hand is a rainbow chasing, unicorn riding, caped crusading dufus.

Catch me on a good day, when I’m wearing my psychedelic glasses, throwing the peace sign at everyone, sliding over details as though they were droplets on a water ride, cruising my way through a gauntlet run hopped up on the natural high of happy making endorphins, and you’ll find me laughing at death and the funny jokes it tells.

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society humor

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Mostly I’m somewhere in between those extremes, trying to be sensible, logical, cautious… but not paranoid about it which turns me into a jibbering, jabbering wreck. Attempting to pretend that I know what I’m doing, because sometimes I do which can be a lovely surprise, fessing up when I don’t hoping someone who does will give me a hand… but not literally because that would be perplexing.

I always worry a bit that people will take what I say a bit too far. That when I ask someone to give me a hand, they’ll chop one off and hand it to me… I grew up with narcissists, things can get very bizarre in that kind of version of reality.

Not that a narcissist would chop their hand off… but you never know, they’ve been known to go to extremes to win some twisted game which is stuck on repeat in their brain. The sound of a broken record can drive you insane – the mind of a narcissist has that as a soundtrack. It’s a dissonant discord which leaks out of them into their interactions with others.

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cupid knives

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If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a narcissist, be it as their child, their lover, their friend, their work colleague, their employee, and so on… you’ve heard the sound of their crazy music.

It might have sounded good at first, but then… then the then happened…

As with most songs which we love, capture our ear, the sound soothing, hitting a spot for us which is oh so good… if we listen to it over and over and over again… sometimes it begins to get on our nerves, sometimes we hear things which were hidden underneath a pleasing tune, a pleasant lyric… and sometimes we get so satiated that we just can’t stand to hear it anymore.

What once gave us pleasure, now only brings us pain.

Their beautiful facade melted your heart… how charming, disarming, ideal, wonderful, special… then that gorgeous virtual visage melted, and so did your mind along with it.

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Do you toss and turn at night, by day, wondering how you could fall for such a person wearing such a disguise… one which now seems obvious with hindsight… and yet… sometimes still fools you, and that hurts, deeper than before, deeper down…

One of the biggest challenges faced by those who have been in love, in the thrall, in friendship, and otherwise with a narcissist… isn’t about them, the narcissist, but about you.

They have an uncanny ability to bring out the worst in you… and if you are someone who has never faced your own darkness, this can be intensely traumatic… the kind of trauma which is so subtle that it sometimes goes unseen.

It haunts your footsteps like a shadow… making you doubt yourself, your smile, your eyes, your ears, your sense of perspective…

If you can’t trust yourself… who can you trust?

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survival mode

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This week, maybe longer, over the next few posts… I thought I’d share some of the life lessons I’ve learned which narcissists have taught me.

I’m aiming to blend negative and positive into a whole made of halves intertwining. Not sure what will actually happen…

My foresight is a dufus… or at least that’s what my hindsight, who is a bitch, calls my foresight.

If you would like to participate in any way, shape or form, please feel free to do so…

I’m usually only rude to myself… so try not to worry that I’ll call you a dufus or a bitch… those are my terms of endearment for myself, my favourite is ‘idiot’.

Want to share a story, a poem, an image, a post, a quote, a question, an answer, an idea… just use the comments section on this post.

One of the life lessons which narcissists have taught me is – other people matter.

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But many things which are obvious… take time to learn because what is in front of our eyes is at times the last thing we see.

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truth and love.

What if this quote above was about your relationship with yourself ?

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45 thoughts on “The Life Lessons which Narcissists Teach

  1. As Margot Alice pointed out, it’s the last line that I’ve learned, too. Quite a trip and if I ever reach a destination it will mean that I’m dead or have dementia.

    Immediately after my split from my ex-narcissist, I thought I was learning about narcissism (and I was), but I was also learning about my ego. I felt humiliated and stupid, and I got that I needed to let that just be a part of me instead of something to be ahamed about.

    Great series, Ursula. πŸ™‚

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  2. Aha. The most important life lessons learned by knowing narcissists are alluded to in the last sentence of your post : “What if this quote above was about your relationship with yourself ?” It is perfectly fitting when turned around to be about ourselves and our experience : it’s what we learn when we begin to recover from the trauma of being closely connected to a narcissist. Not only do we learn we are strong enough to love another despite the dark scary places within them (even if “only”at a distance), but more importantly, we learn not to abandon ourselves. It’s a peculiarly powerful experience to lose yourself in relationship with a narcissist, insidious because you wholeheartedly believe someone you love cares as deeply for you — while you give all you have to give and more, your soul is being slowly eviscerated, and you don’t know it until you quite literally “dis-integrate.” Healing involves becoming whole and integrated once more, and becoming staunchly committed to yourself and your well-being….loving yourself down to the dark places, choosing to “be with yourself despite your filthy heart.” This is the gift — and the lesson — left in the wake of profoundly traumatic relationships with an unhealthy narcissist. It really is “all about us,” and we learn to know ourselves through courageous honesty and a kind of tenderness for the wounds we’ve acquired along the way. These seemingly shattering experiences can increase our capacity to love if we can stay with ourselves through the painful parts. I love your posts and read them every morning with my coffee. They have become a part of my healing and I am grateful for your willingness to take the time to share so much of yourself. Thank you, Ursula!

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  3. What I have learned about myself after being in a 3+ yr relationship with a narcissistic sociopath, is that I need to stop being a prisoner of hope and potential. “I loved him but even more so, the potential that I saw in him”, that was a grave mistake on my part. Acknowledging others for who they truly rather than the potential that I see in them; no illusions, living in the here and now. Being present will provide courage and unremarkable strength.

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    1. Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

      Don’t be too hard on yourself, we live and learn, and sometimes making mistakes is the inspiration we need, maybe especially because it hurts.

      Love what you shared, very well put!

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  4. May I share, when I was a child I had a best friend, 5 years we were besties, then all of a sudden for no reason, my friend, started to be mean to me, ridicule me in front of other friends, she was becoming the head of her pack, she said unnecessary, stupid things about me and attacked my mother. I have never understood why or where it was coming from. Obviously my adult self knows she was having a struggle somewhere in her own life. She started to become a bad girl and I wasn’t, she liked having a reputation. Our friendship ended, as I refused to be her kicking post, I did what I always do, turned around and walked away….never to return. Shortly after, another friend told me, that my old friend had become pregnant at a very early age, was in big trouble and it was suggested (did she ask?) that I should contact her and be supportive…but no, she was dead in the water as far as I was concerned, we never spoke again. I sometimes think of her and how her life turned out, wonder what about me makes me have this same reaction, when someone really crosses me, I close down the shutters, never to open them again. Survival? a bitch? not sure, I like to think it is more about the first summation than the last, but that is for others to judge?

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    1. Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

      Sometimes ‘closing down the shutters’ is the way to go when dealing with certain people. They’re doing what they’re doing and you know they’re stuck on that course, once they’ve started they can’t turn back, and you can’t change things, nothing you say or do will make a difference. So rather than feed into it, you pull away. It’s actually a mature tactic, one which at a young age is quite rare, it’s usually something we do when we’re older and have learned from painful experience that fighting rumours and someone who is spreading them about us is not going to solve anything, and sometimes makes it worse. Try to fight a rumour and you give it credence. People start quoting Shakespeare at you – methinks you doth protest too much therefore thou dost be guilty! Or they throw proverbs at you about there not being smoke without fire. Sometimes walking away is the only way to go.

      It’s natural to wonder about those from whom you’ve walked away, especially if you were close to them. And to consider her side of the story shows empathy. But she made her bed, and there’s no reason for you to lie in it just because you were once friends. She could have relied on your friendship during her tough time, instead she burned that bridge.

      So, why do you think you have this reaction when someone crosses you? You know the answer, all the puzzles in our lives… we own the pieces, although we sometimes hide them from ourselves.

      Your tactic is not one which I would consider a ‘bitch’ tactic, it’s more of an acceptance and letting go before you get dragged down with them into whatever hell they’re in. Seems more of a survival tactic, a natural one of someone who is taking care of themselves.

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  5. I am also looking forward to reading your posts. I have a question. Why is there so much more info on male narcissists than female narcissists?

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    1. Thank you very much πŸ™‚

      I’ve wondered that too.

      I think it may have to do with female ‘victims of male narcissists’ writing more about the subject than male victims of female narcissists. Men tend to keep things to themselves more than women do, women tend to share more than men do.

      As well as male narcissists tending to be overt narcissists more often than not, thus more obvious in their narcissism, whereas female narcissists tend to be covert narcissists more often than not, thus harder to spot in their narcissism. Covert narcissist tend to ‘play the victim’ and may ‘play the victim of a narcissist’ – difficult to challenge.

      I also think gender stereotypes play a role in this, letting female narcissists off the hook due to being ‘female’, so if they’re being narcissistic they may get away with it as others excuse it as PMS or some other ‘female’ thing. It’s just a woman being a woman.

      Some people write using ‘he’ for the narcissist, but may include somewhere int here that what they’re saying also applies to male narcissists.

      We’re all a bit confused… NPD is confusing.

      There are a few men writing about their experiences with female narcissists, ad a few females writing about their experiences of female narcissists, but overall male narcissist stories dominate for now… time will balance it out and give a more equal version. It always does.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer. That’s what I thought. Women are definitely more covert narcissists n men overt. And so many men are ashamed, uncomfortable or might not even realize they’ve spent decades being abused. Gender stereotypes are still alive and well lol. As a highly sensitive person, it’s unfathomable to me that people can just be incapable of empathy. Scary. Be well xo

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        1. Thank you πŸ™‚

          I tend to be more surprised when people do show empathy, real empathy and understanding. But then I grew up with narcissists, so I’m used to people being able to only see their side of a story. I consider those who have genuine empathy to be amazing people. It can be very hard to see beyond ourselves, our side of the story, and those who do and can do it with gentle understanding are inspiring.

          There are a couple of blogs which you might find interesting:

          https://thenarcissistsson.wordpress.com/

          https://apensiveheart.wordpress.com/

          both written by men who have had relationships with female narcissists.

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          1. Thanks! Wow I grew up with parents that were both extremely empathetic. We never knew who would show up at the dinner table on holidays lol. One Thanksgiving she went to get cranberry sauce n came home with a man who needed a shower n new clothes. My Dad’s 6’4 and this guy was much shorter. The clothes were so big. He sent us a letter when he got back on his feet thanking my Mom. She was a very special person. Though she is gone she inspires me all the time πŸ™‚

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              1. It was. They weren’t perfect lol but they were really kind, loving, fun and supportive. My Mom’s Mom was a narcissist and so she gave us all the love and empathy she didn’t get. So both ur parents were narcissists? Then who loved you n cared for u?

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                1. Yes, both my parents were narcissists (according to me). They cared for me, most of the time… narcissist care is… it’s not all awful. When narcissists are good, they are very, very good… and the world isn’t just made up by your parents, there are other people involved, some of them are pretty awesome. We make do with what we get… πŸ™‚

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  6. One of the life lessons narcissists have taught me is…it’s OK to turn your back & walk away. “If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking”- proverb.

    I miss you Ursula- but I still visit your site weekly to read your dreamy prose. Hope you are good ❀

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      1. I am good, thank you! Looking back I am grateful for you teaching me how to “stay still” when I wanted to go in for the kill. I have learned the ability to “stay still” & relatively silent has worked in my favor. I don’t do the silent treatment (so this was very hard for me) but in this case I did and when you do this to a person with NPD it will make their true colors shine bright & clear for others to see. Their paranoia is so intense that they tend to dig their own grave if you have kept relatively silent. I am now hearing things about things she has done or said over the past year. It’s actually sad & it doesn’t make me happy really but it confirms why I left and even though it was hard it was necessary. I am floored by people’s responses to why I am no longer friends with her. People are not as surprised as I expected them to be. I feel like I was blind sighted but I know what kept me hooked in the end- she uses hypnosis a lot when you are alone with her. I am now realizing how addictive that can be for me. I was especially addicted to that. I tune into others easily and my ability to focus is uncanny. It’s a unique trait but was used against me. I knew she did this with me but now I know how she relied on it to keep me “in”. I know I’ve mentioned this in the past but I think it is so unique when dealing with someone who has NPD or is a sociopath. I know I can talk about it on your blog and others won’t judge me or think I’m nuts. It’s one of those topics that makes people roll their eyes and think “whatever.” But I just think to myself now…if only they knew…but you can’t make other people understand and you have to come to peace with that I guess. Some things just don’t make sense- that’s definitely something that I learned from being in a relationship with a narcissist.

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        1. Thank you πŸ™‚

          The hypnosis thing is an intriguing aspect of the narcissist. I think people shy away from it when you mention it because it is associated with stage magicians making people cluck like chickens. However there are other sides of hypnosis, and I think people prefer not to think about those unless they’ve got a habit or a phobia which they hope a hypnotherapist can help them cure.

          Narcissists will focus all of their attention on you while you’re important to them, and that kind of attention is hypnotic. They look straight at you, see only you, they listen to ever word you say, watch your every move, notice things which usually go unnoticed, and point it all out to you, make you feel like a star on stage in the spotlight. It is mesmerising to have someone so focused on and attentive to you. It’s basically stalking, obsession, but in the first thrill of it it feels like love out of some romantic film – they can only see you and they find you magnificent, fascinating, interesting – and it doesn’t matter if the relationship isn’t of a romantic nature.

          A relationship with a narcissist can be devastating, but it can also give us a deeper appreciation for ourselves and for others. In the end it’s about what we make of it, and you’ve been rocking the healing!

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          1. Thanks…you’re right on about the hypnosis. I mentioned it because a friend of mine mentioned how she’d notice how my ex friend would get close into my face. She thought that was weird and blew it off but it triggered how she would do this to me a lot. Interesting really.

            I have healed a lot but I will never be the same. That kind of pissed me off (it still does at times)but I have come to accept it more. My husband mentions how I am different and my reply is “I am.” This stuff changes you and there are positives & negatives to the change that it creates and ultimately one has to decide how to merge those two and make a choice as to how to move forward. It’s a choice. One thing I have learned is that my heart has softened more for people making choices that I wouldn’t. I now get it even if I don’t understand it. Understanding is not necessary to just accept people for where they are at. Healing is like that- so many stages and it in many ways it never truly ends which I’ve come to accept to. I’ve realized how little I really know about life but that I am learning with everyone else.

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            1. That’s a beautiful observation – that sometimes understanding is about getting it even when we don’t understand! Love that!

              We live and learn, and there is always so much to learn about our life, ourselves, others, the world… sometimes the lessons are fun, sometimes they hurt, but they always enrich us in some way. πŸ™‚

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  7. The disguise part and knowing it, yet still being fooled is true. Especially if this person is still apart of your life in some way. I always call myself an idiot for falling for same tricks either right after or only when they are not behind their disguise. They have a way of making people feel like fools for letting them or allowing them to get the better of us for their own benefit.

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    1. Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

      Sometimes we have to live something over and over, even when we know better… if it’s only our intellect which knows better, we may have to wait for our hearts and the rest of us to catch up. But we always get there in the end, may take a while, but we get there, and once there… there’s no looking back the way we used to.

      They never change, but we do eventually!

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  8. I am looking forward to this series of posts. I like you can go from “I am so blessed I can barely contain it” to where I am today, feeling absolutely hopeless and not even really caring any more.

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    1. Thank you very much πŸ™‚

      You’ve captured the roller coaster of it. The highs and lows which play a big part in the process. It’s when you flatline that you realise it is time to get out, but how do you heal the damage which caused you to flatline?

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    1. Dear Seashell,
      In your definition of love, I find myself once again doubting whether I should have divorced a man who verbally and emotionally abused me for 15 years. Should I have stayed and loved his wounds and flaws and how he tried to heal and mend his scars? And then I have to remind myself that he is a narcissist and in his mind he only sees me as the flawed one. No need for him to mend anything.

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      1. Dear Jana,
        It’s not my definition of love, but I have read it in a French article you can find online, “L’amour vΓ©ritable selon la psychanalyse” and it suits with my own idea of love. To me everybody has a baggage of experience and wounds, grief, flaws and when i love someone i embrace them, as i am not looking for a perfect, ideal and plastic person. i would have liked to loved with my flaws by my N parents, but this didn’t happened. Acceptance is a key word to me. of course, this is related to a healthy way of loving, which is compromised when there is a N on stage: i have learnt they are not able to love ( i am talking about my NPD parents). But this definition could apply to you now: in your baggage there is greif, anger wounds and pain, but i wish you to meet someone who can accept you as you are, someone patient with your scars and able to appreciate your qualities.Good luck.

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  9. The psychoanalytic definition of love: loving someone is loving their wounds, flaws and how they try to heal and mend their scars.

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    1. Thank you very much πŸ™‚

      Yes, that kind of works, but sometimes it just can’t because the flow isn’t flowing both ways, isn’t reciprocal… but when it does, when it is… la vie n’est pas un long fleuve tranquille, but sometimes it can be when we accept the waves, tides, currents, rain, tsunamis, and stuff… but it has to be both ways or it’s not going to work.

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    1. Thank you very much πŸ™‚

      I like to mix things together because that’s the way my mind works. Life is a puzzle made up of all sorts of pieces, sometimes it’s quotes, sometimes comments, sometimes music, etc…

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