The Lessons We Learn from Narcissists
Have you met a narcissist?
Have you had a relationship with a narcissist?
Is the person whom you think is a narcissist really a narcissist or are you the narcissist who thinks that others are what you are?
Has someone accused you of being a narcissist?
Do you think you’re a narcissist?
If you think you’re a narcissist, are you sure that you are one or have you spent too much time around a narcissist and have come to believe what they’ve told you about yourself?
(this includes what I choose to see about myself, and what others choose to see about themselves)
That last question is a bit complicated,
all questions about narcissists are complicated,
the subject of narcissism is a complex one,
a knotty problem
a puzzle of scattered pieces of you and others all jumbled up together
and as much as people try to make it clear,
black and white
I am this and you are that,
only one of us can be the narcissist in this equation,
things don’t work that way and if you try to make them work that way you will end up
going around in circles,
drawing narcissistic conclusions,
stuck in a rut.
If you approach the issue from a black and white angle and decide that someone else is a narcissist,
that they are a villain, a monster, bad, toxic, the abuser,
this will be helpful for awhile,
as giving a name to something or someone that has been nameless,
and because of that has been confusing,
can give shape to what has been shapeless and clarify the confusion, dissipate the heavy fog which has obscured the mind, heart, and weighed you down,
– labeling my parents as narcissists has helped me to disentangle myself from their web, to separate the wheat from the chaff and find out what is mine and what is theirs. For a long time I thought what was mine was theirs and what was theirs was mine, which kept me tied to them in ways that were very unhealthy and caused me to keep bleeding profusely, and in trying to stop myself from bleeding I often ended up repressing the wound which then made it fester and hurt others because of it) –
but at some point what is helpful may become harmful.
One of the ways in which it can become harmful is that rather than alleviate the fear with which you’ve lived while being in a relationship with a narcissist, it can increase it
– you may become paranoid in a way which results with you turning into a witch-hunter, hunting narcissists in an effort to stop them from being a part of your life experience,
so you scour all those ‘red flag’ lists which (are growing in number online, often contradict and conflict with each other, have very vague parameters that could fit anyone and everyone including you, and turn relationships into statistics) claim to aid you in identifying narcissists to
or dump and discard them should you have inadvertently entered into a relationship with one.
Like those who hunted witches in the days of yore the evidence which you use to decide if someone is a witch or not will get more and more tenuous
– that person has a wart on their finger, all witches have warts (black and white thinking) therefore they must be a witch and I should burn them before they burn me or turn me into a toad!
You corner yourself into being the hero, the monster-slayer or the one being constantly attacked by monsters who needs succour from a good monster-slayer, good, pure, the victim of the abuser,
and as much as it may feel that you’re on the right side of the equation, there’s a price to pay of living in the land of right or wrong and choosing a side (and then having to stick to that side) and that is that there will always be a barrier between you and others, guarded by a rigid set of rules and tests, which will protect you and keep others out, which is designed to only let the right one in, but will also confine you to a gilded cage, an ivory tower, of your own making.
(I’ve done and do all of these, sometimes unconsciously but at times consciously, at some point along the route of thinking… do I win a prize for that?)
Someone recently commented on one of my posts about narcissists, stating that:
“I am a covert narcissist. There are two types of narcissists…. covert (inverted) narcissists and classic narcissists. Covert narcissists are capable of remorse and do not manipulate people. I am stunned and saddened at the common misconception that we are ALL monsters. I am an only child of a psychopath/sadist mother and a covert narcissist father. All covert narcissists have been abused. Classic narcissists were most likely put on a pedestal as a child, which in fact is a form of abuse. This is how we deal with our fragmented self. We are ALL truly miserable. However, I do not condone the evil behavior of the classic narcissist. Both types are certainly aware of the difference between right and wrong. I do say this, if you do become involved with either type of narcissist..please leave right away. Don’t waste your life. You will never be able to fix us, no matter how much you try. No matter how much you care. It is very hard pill to swallow to know there isn’t a cure…..how we will never be able to truly love and that we will die an empty shell of a person.”
They added a link at the end of the comment to a video by Sam Vaknin – Misinformation: Covert vs. Classic Narcissist
I replied to the comment, saying this:
“I agree that the view of narcissists as ‘monsters’ is upsetting, especially for those who’ve been diagnosed with NPD. The ‘monster’ label is one that comes from the pain experienced by those who’ve been subjected to abuse at the hands of a narcissist, and is a reflection of their personal experience with their particular narcissist or narcissists.
Unfortunately the emotions, the pain, the anger, the fear which comes with that gets passed onto everyone who reminds those who’ve been abused of their abuser. It’s a very human thing to do, and partly springs from a primal instinct to avoid ever having that kind of experience again. We’re hard-wired to identify our foes, enemies, those who might harm us, and we often use generalised labels to do that. So someone who has been abused by a narcissist will label all narcissists as being as abusive as their particular narcissist, and if their particular narcissist happened to be one who was on the extreme end of the NPD spectrum, they may have behaved like a ‘monster’ and therefore for their victim that would make them view all narcissists as monsters, as being like their abuser.
There is also the possibility that a person labeling narcissists as monsters may be a narcissist who, unlike you, is unaware that they have NPD.
Don’t take the label of ‘monster’ or the opinion that ‘all narcissists are monsters’ personally. View it as an expression of people trying to make sense of an issue which confuses them, frightens them, and has deeply wounded them. It is not a reflection of you, of your NPD, it is an expression of their own story, their personal experience of their particular narcissist or narcissists who abused them and left them feeling fractured and fragmented.
Many victims of narcissists, after they’ve gone through their own pain, do adjust how they view those with NPD. It just takes time to get there, and can be a long and difficult journey.”
and I added my own link at the end to an article which I think gives an in depth view of narcissism – Narcissism by Richard Boyd, Perth WA – Energetics Institute
I wanted to say more in my reply, but… I didn’t.
The more would have been doing what this person did not want me or anyone else to do.
I’d probably already trespassed over that boundary with what I did say. I have a tendency to do that when I reply to comments because… I’m human and being human is a messy experience and affair.
Someone asked me what the rules are for comments and replies on this blog – there aren’t really any, other than regular human ones. So, if you’re being human expect others to be human too, and try not to be too disappointed if they are. That includes me, the blogger of this blog – if I seem like I know what I’m doing on here, I do… and don’t. I learn as I go along and interact with you…
we learn from each other, from our relationships however deep or superficial or many shades in between they may be.
One of the aspects of being human is being narcissistic – we can all be narcissistic, narcissism is a natural and normal phase of human development and it can be healthy as much as it can be unhealthy.
NPD is basically a normal and natural part of of being human which has been distorted, disordered, and taken to an extreme (but within the extreme is a scale and not all those with NPD at at the extreme end of the extreme).
Imagine a plant which has been forced to grow in a way that isn’t its usual way – like a Bonsai.
(but they think you’re the one who did it… because they handed you the flame afterwards and you’re still holding it)
The problem is perspective,
perspective has been skewed, but that skewed perspective thinks it is correct and therefore thinks that correct perspective is skewed
– what I view as healthy narcissism may be viewed as being unhealthy by you.
If I stand my ground about my own identity when you want me to
be who you want me to be for you, but that’s not who I am, not who I want to be either (so I’m not going to adopt it)
back down and bow down to your version of my identity,
then we’re going to have a clash and we’re both probably going to think we’re living in the right while the other is living in the wrong.
We can both survive this clash,
but sometimes we think that one of us must die for the other to survive,
even if evidence points to an alternative where we can both live,
and share this space together (yet apart).
There are quite a few points upon which both narcissists and non-narcissists agree,
these are often those views which make those who are narcissists so attractive to those who aren’t,
and makes those who aren’t narcissists so attractive to those who are.
There’s a person who ‘borrowed’ one of my posts,
when I first came across this I simply thought they’d copied and pasted it to share, which is what the web is all about, but a closer look made me rethink my original view of it…
I can be naive at times (it serves a purpose and not just for others to use me as they please…)
they’d edited it slightly – removed the part which explained the post:
These questions are from the search terms used to find my blog – the answers are a mix of serious with humour added. If you want me to clarify and go deeper into an answer to a question, or have another question to add, let me know using the comments:
and they hadn’t specified the source other than in the title. It has been done in a way that (is quite clever) could mislead people into thinking that this person is the author of this post, the one who put these words together this way, (and other factors seem to suggest that this person is counting on things being misleading).
This has been around for awhile, and I’ve been aware of it, but a penny about it only dropped recently (frankly that penny couldn’t drop earlier as I’ve been caught up in things which made it seem the least of narcissistic things to me… and it’s only come to the fore now because I finally have time to cogitate on this kind of picture).
It bothers me… it bothers my own narcissistic tendencies.
But I often suppress those (not necessarily successfully).
(this scene… it’s me with me)
It bothers me in other ways which aren’t directly personal – when someone claims as their own what is yours, what happens to what is theirs?
A few days ago, a blog I follow discussed how they would feel about losing all the content of their blog due to a technical glitch (or other internet ‘monster’). This particular blog weathers these kind of storms as inspiration, and they did this as a way to promote a new creation of theirs.
Another blog which I follow,
took that post out of the context in which it was written, and panicked due what it evoked for them personally… reveling in the panic somewhat, because we humans do that kind of thing… it’s a form of cutting.
It’s a way to know that we feel and bleed what we feel.
One person’s panic can trigger our own… or memories of the panic of others and how it affected us (and may still affect us).
Living with my parents, my mother in particular, was a constant state of panic about the slightest thing.
Narcissists are afraid of everything, everyone, of losing the control they never really had but thought they had because sometimes it seems as though we have the ability to control the chaos of being alive and all that ensues from that… we can arrange the dominoes and dictate how they collapse once we decide to push that first one over… they don’t always fall the way we wanted them to which can cause a jarring within, the pressure we’ve placed on ourselves and therefore on others can grind like gears whose teeth have gone astray…
– as a child I had a recurring nightmare about a system of gears, a clockwork, which didn’t work… it was all in pink, the colour of the brain (of brainmares)… that clockwork has never really worked for me the way that others say it should, or how I hear them say it should, but it works in a way… always a wrong way even when it seems right… –
I did what I have learned to do about things which others are panicking about,
(after years of losing my head because they were losing theirs)
and shrugged about it – if I lost An Upturned Soul, the content which this place holds… I would simply do what I have done throughout my life when I’ve lost myself, things I own or thought I owned, and the things which I’ve created – start again from scratch.
(the only thing which would cause me consternation is that others have found sustenance and substance in my posts… which would be lost, or would it?… in what I’ve shared and… perhaps my cavalier (not sure if that’s the right word) attitude would harm them in some way, or would it?)
I’m used to being lost, I know how to find myself within the loss.
If I sound blase, I’m not… I just know I can survive (until I can’t) all those things which seem insurmountable and so overwhelming that there’s no way you can make it through.
I know others can survive too, and I rely on that as much as I do on my own ability to do it.
There was a time in my life when my mantra was – I’m not going to make it…
but I made it.
Not sure how…
I could analyse it within an inch of its life, but that would only be able to grasp the mechanics (coping mechanisms) of it. Some of the tick of the tock.
When we ask questions like this one
(in the search terms which led someone – according to blog stats 7 people asked this in their search bar, it could be one person searching 7 times – to my blog):
“How do I stop hating myself for falling in love with a narcissist?”
My answer to that is – never – unless you stop hating the narcissist for being a narcissist. That can be hard to do. The anger phase of dealing with the fallout from a relationship with a narcissist can be,
and too active to ever turn off.
If we’ve lost a lot of ourselves to that kind of relationship,
we may find ourselves too tied into to it to ever untie ourselves,
it’s part of the fabric of our being and the end of it may be the beginning of something with which we’re loathe to part.
– Without my particular narcissists I would most probably not have created An Upturned Soul, and this blog has gained a certain popularity which it would have never had if it hadn’t been for my posts about narcissists.
It gets quite a bit of attention for the astrology posts which I have written
(and I could overlay astrology on this post as I can see where my natal chart and transits correlate with what’s going on within it – Pluto in particular, both natally and by transit, but also Mars… and Uranus… and…) –
Out of everything which a relationship with a narcissist can teach us,
and that includes your relationship with yourself if you think you are a narcissist,
is – We need to get to know ourselves better,
which often entails accepting that who we are isn’t who we’d like for ourselves to be,
or who we think we are.
That can make us very uncomfortable,
with ourselves and with others,
sometimes we’re uncomfortable with others because they make us confront what makes us uncomfortable about ourselves,
they show us one way or another that as much as we’d like to live in the right, we’re often in residence in the wrong, or even worse than that, we live in the grey areas between black and white, right and wrong, which don’t have rules which are easy to follow, or clear boundaries.
We, humans, often make those boundaries up just to have them… and be on the right side of them.
But what happens when we find ourselves on the wrong side of the boundaries which we know we’ve created and supported?
Do we justify our ‘slip-up’ while not letting others do the same?
Do we indulge in a bit of narcissism while coming down hard on anyone else who does that, perhaps even accusing them of crimes we’re committing too, but we’re allowed to do it
(because we have justifiable justifications – that no one else is allowed to use even if they’re exactly the same as ours and we know it).
(or perhaps inside that person is a person you know too well – you – and you don’t like to find yourself in them because it shows you that you don’t know you as well as you need to to get along with others)
Yesterday I built a wall,
(I’ve built many of these around myself over the years)
by moving bricks from one place to another…
(sometimes we destroy one wall and build another one with those bricks)
the wall I built is a temporary one until I can figure out what to do with the bricks which I moved,
these bricks were once used as external flooring, designed to deal with the weight of a horse and cart and the load which that horse with cart was supposed to carry from one place to another,
(my house served several different purposes in the days of yore… it was once a pub and those horses with cart carried barrels of ale to quench the thirst of weary travelers)
they’d been moved from their original place
(why would anyone be crazy enough to do that as these things weigh a ton… of bricks!)
and used as a border for a vegetable garden
(the framework of someone’s dream for this place and themselves).
That vegetable garden is no more,
hasn’t been that way for awhile,
but it is still trying to cling to its former glory underneath the weeds which have invaded it
Those weeds are plants too, ones which have learned to survive and thrive even though many people hate them,
have lists of ‘red flags’ to identify them,
and products to avoid, discard, kill them while being environmentally friendly so that when they kill a living thing they feel justified in doing it and feel confident in the outcome of their actions – it was for the greater good, right?
One of the many things which I’ve learned form the narcissists (or the supposed ones) in my life is,
we can all be narcissists,
even if it’s only weeds which experience us that way.
I’ve always liked weeds,
I identify with them…
my mother hated them.
She would spend her Spring months trying to cut them out,
saw herself as noble, righteous, heroic, a martyr to a cause, for doing that when she could be doing something else, like having the fun which she hated everyone else for having while she battled weeds.
They always grew back as though defying her, giving her the proverbial radical herbal finger, letting her know that her ‘green fingers’ of which she was so proud and liked to shove in the faces of others, were drenched with red not green.
She made war not love,
even though she saw it as being the other way around,
which may be why her love required so many deaths.
(the brick in the wall has a name…)
In my view she was a covert narcissist,
oh, yes… she felt remorse,
how loud and proud and so overwhelming to others that was,
you couldn’t say or do anything which didn’t trigger it for her,
and, yes, she was the way she was because she had been abused, had suffered…
I paid for that by being told and repeatedly made to feel until it became real, that nothing I suffered could ever compare to what she had been through… so what I felt was a nothing and what she felt was an everything,
which must be catered to so that she wouldn’t feel that somehow she was the monster rather than all those she accused of being the monsters in her life.
It was very complicated.
I lost myself in it for what seems like too much of a lifetime, and my loss never really was a gain for her, the sacrifice of the weed never made her satisfied with her garden… there was always something (someone) else which marred it for her.
A speck of dirt which obscured the view of the eye.
I used to think that I could remove that speck of dirt from her eye and then she could see without pain… but when I became that speck of dirt and the only way to remove it was by removing myself completely from existence, and even then I had an inkling that she would still find another speck of dirt in her eye…
it eventually made me realise that I should endeavour to not take the views of others so personally,
and should check my own eyes when viewing others.
There is much to be learned from narcissists,
whether they are really narcissists
or whether we just see them as being that way because of a speck of dirt in our eye, that has grown into a weed which we can’t live with and must eradicate,
while appearing to ourselves (and others if we can control how they see us) as heroes for killing it.
We can all be narcissistic,
and it isn’t usually the end of the world when we are,
and it isn’t the end of our world when others are,
if we’re still here, discussing what they did to us, our world has not ended…
sometimes it’s just a beginning of something that,
may not be as it seems.
Things not being as they seem – narcissists teach us that,
but how do we learn it?