Do narcissists have feelings? That’s a question which sometimes comes up in discussions about narcissists.
It’s a question which perplexes me every time someone asks it, because in my experience of the narcissists in my life, our interactions and relationships have always been about their feelings.
Your feelings don’t matter.
Your feelings are never as important as their feelings.
You don’t feel as powerfully and as fully as they do.
You’re not as sensitive and as tuned into feeling as they are.
In fact they will regularly accuse you of not having feelings.
You’re not allowed to have feelings, you don’t deserve to have feelings, you can’t have feelings.
Your feelings don’t exist unless the narcissist designates a feeling to you, it’s the feeling they need you to have not one which is yours, which is given to you as a reason to blame you for their feelings.
The feeling world of a narcissist is grandiose. They have BIG feelings. LARGER than life feelings. Feelings which are entitled to come gushing up and out of them and drown everyone else’s feelings out.
Narcissists will overwhelm you with their feelings, it’s like being hit by a tidal wave.
I was once walking along a tropical beach with my partner. We came to a small rivulet, which may have been a sewage outflow but it seemed fairly clean, dividing the beach in half. My partner suggested turning back. But beyond this watery obstacle there was a luxury hotel and resort, and I wanted to take a peek at it.
The rivulet seemed shallow and easy to cross to get to the other side. We both started to cross when suddenly a wave from the sea beside us moved in, rushing up the rivulet.
It didn’t appear to be a big wave so we kept going. The next thing we knew both of us had been swept off our feet and were struggling in deep water. The current of the wave pushed us up the rivulet, and then began to suck us out towards the sea.
My partner was more worried about me than he was about himself – that shocked me.
I had spent too much time with narcissists and when you’re in deep water narcissists will abandon you to save themselves. Or they’ll expect you to sacrifice yourself to save them. And they’re usually the ones who got you in deep water in the first place, but if you survive and even if you don’t, it’ll be your fault that this happened to them. How could you do this to them!
What also shocked me was that all I could think about while struggling in the water was how to save myself. I hadn’t thought about my partner at all. Of course I explained that away to myself as me trusting him to save himself, and me focusing on saving myself due to primal instinct, but… was it really that?
That was not the first time that I had only thought about myself in situations which concerned both of us.
Afterwards the memory of that moment haunted me and made me cringe at myself and my selfishness.
The more I thought about even though I wanted to forget it, the more I realised that… SHIT! I had become the narcissist in our relationship!
It was all about me me me and what I was feeling.
It was all about what I wasn’t getting and wanted, and why wasn’t he fixing it for me and giving it to me.
It was all about what I had been through and what was wrong with me… indeed! WTF was wrong with me!
I had finally cut my personal narcissists out of my life. I’d finally gone No Contact with my narcissists… and I had filled the narcissist void in my life by becoming a narcissist.
Had I always been a narcissist and just didn’t know it because I was a narcissist?
Had my narcissist parents been right about me being the real problem?
They’d told me countless times that I was a brat, a monster, bad, evil, a terrible child who was a burden to them. They’d told me over and over again that I was unlovable and only they could dutifully love me but it was too difficult even for them – the god and goddess of special love.
They’d reminded me regularly that I was the reason for all their misery, and… why didn’t I just kill myself to make them happy.
All their friends, their social acquaintances, their business colleagues, and all those random strangers they’d interacted with for five seconds… had all given me messages from my parents about everything being my fault.
That man my mother had angered so much that I’d had to step in to defend her from his wrath had told me that he reckoned that my mother wished she could have a retroactive abortion… and she’d just stayed silent.
I knew she agreed.
If I hadn’t forced her to give birth to me her life would have been all diamonds and pearls, everything she had always dreamed, desired and knew it could have been if only…
She wouldn’t have been stuck with my father who didn’t want me, had never wanted children, hated her for having a child… how selfish of me to make him have a child.
It had all been about me me me… I had completely disregarded their feelings.
That experience with my partner on the beach marked a turning point in my relationship with myself because of my relationship with him.
It was one of many turning points of which he was a part.
It was indirectly because of him that I finally went No Contact with my parents. Through me I had allowed my partner to be hurt by them. Once again he had been thinking of me, worrying about me, and I… I had been thinking about myself.
I had been reluctant to cut ties with my mother because without me in her life she had no one… except for that con artist she’d recently met in the street who had offered her unlimited riches if she just helped the con artist through a financially tough time. I really shouldn’t be calling the con artist that, that’s terrible of me, they were my mother’s new BFF, a special person just like my mother who recognised my mother’s true colours.
I was evil for not giving my mother all my money and all my partner’s money to help this BFF out… we just didn’t appreciate a good investment! You had to give everything to get everything!
I had only just reconnected with my father after years and years of him pretending I didn’t exist, and he kept calling me on the phone to tell me that he was going to kill himself every week like clockwork.
The first thing he’d said to my partner when I’d introduced them was that he was an immortal, and he explained why and how it had happened. I guess immortality weighed heavily upon him… he must have been relieved when over a decade later he died of natural causes.
My relationship with my partner has been instrumental in helping me to face my relationship with my parents, and my relationship with myself.
One of the hardest challenges has been accepting that someone could love me, and love me as I am, with all my mess inside and out. He’s taught me how to accept myself as is and not feel pressured to be anyone other than myself.
I’d always dreamed of meeting someone like him, but never thought it was possible… not for me anyway.
We’ve been together for over two decades and throughout that time I’ve gone through many phases of feeling. Feeling unworthy, feeling worthless, feeling he’d be happier and better off without me, feeling safe with someone for the first time in my life, feeling freely loved and feeling free to love in return, feeling accepted, feeling confused by being safe, loved, accepted.
I have gradually recovered from growing up with narcissists, living with narcissists, having narcissists shape my sense of self, my sense of others, my sense of reality.
I’m still a mess… but I can now enjoy my human messiness, instead of feeling that I should be ashamed of it, should hide it, should get rid of all my human and tidy up that mess.
My partner is indirectly responsible for this blog. He encouraged me to get into social media. He gave me my first social media accounts as an X-Mas gift. It was my turn to want to turn back on the beach, and my turn to follow his lead across the rivulet to cross to the other side.
Once I got into social media, I got swept up in it, swept away by it, swept off my feet, lost my flip flops… but eventually I landed here.
Blogging has been both directly and indirectly responsible for my finally figuring certain things out which has enabled me to be less narcissistic in my relationships with others and with myself.
Strangely enough being less narcissistic seems to require embracing, accepting and owning your own narcissism and narcissistic tendencies, the good and the bad of it – to get the good, you need to get the bad.
People can be very dismissive about blogging and bloggers. Bloggers themselves can be dismissive about blogging… oh, it’s just something I do sometimes, it doesn’t mean anything, I can delete it anytime I want.
I read a post the other day, actually it was a series of posts, by a blogger who is having a blogging crisis. It’s a fairly normal occurrence… except when you’re having it, especially if you’re a relatively new blogger, it feels as though you’re losing it, you’re crazy, what’s wrong with you, this is just a blog why are you making such a big deal about it.
Blogging as unreal as it can seem and feel, in many ways brings you face to face with what’s real. It’s not dissimilar to a dream – it all seems like nonsense, figments of your imagining, but underneath it all it’s you telling yourself about something meaningful to you.
What struck me the most about this blogger and their crisis wasn’t their VERY LOUD SHOUTING about wanting to delete their blog because they hated themselves and everything they did and said, they were fed up with all their bullshit, but the quiet comment someone who follows them left which went ignored. That comment said – I don’t want you to delete me.
The very BIG FEELINGS of that blogger which had reached surreal levels were made small by that simple comment with very real feeling.
I’ve had big feelings which have felt surreal, which I’ve poured into posts. I’ve deleted previous blogs, I’ve called bullshit on myself, hated myself and everything I did, said, was… I’ve been swept up in the tides within and drowned in them, drenched others with them. It happens, it’s human.
And when we’re in one of those tidal waves we only think of ourselves, our thoughts of others aren’t about others but of ourselves – what they aren’t doing for us, what we wanted from them but they didn’t give us, how they don’t understand us, how they’d all be better off without us, how we’re making them miserable, and so on, so forth, slosh, swirl, sucked into the maelstrom.
We’re so caught up in ourselves we can’t see or hear others calling to us, caring for us, accepting us as we are flaws, faults, bullshit, madness and all.
We want to delete everything and start again… but when we do that we delete others, and they don’t want to be deleted.
We don’t like it when others delete us… why would we think others would prefer it if we deleted ourselves from their lives, thus deleting them from ours.
But we all have to go through what we’re going through until we get to wherever it is our internal tide is taking us. Perhaps it’ll wash us up on a tropical beach like a shell, which a beachcomber will find and put against their ear to hear the ocean inside their own head.
Love and hate are experiences we all have.
We often end up hating what and who we love.
What and who we hate may be how we deal with something or someone we love too much. It hurts. The pain runs deep, stirs up too much feeling which threatens to overwhelm us, knock us over, sweep us away… we want to control it, stop it up with a cork, so we hate it.
Our loves and hates can be very narcissistic, all about us not about them, all about them not doing, being, giving, saying what we wanted them to do, be, give, say so that we could do, be, give, and say what we wanted.
What a relationship with a narcissist does is show us the experience of being human in an extreme manner.
Their love and hate is so much bigger than ours.
Their emotions are louder.
Their feelings expressed in exaggeration.
When they love it is very very good, and when they hate it is very very horrid.
When they’re in love their love gives them giant wings, they lift us up to high heights, we’re on top of the world…
When their love turns to hate, their giant wings fan flames, scorching everyone and everything, burning us black, charring our hearts, and we turn to stone, dropping from the great height we once were on…
Down and deeper down, hitting the ground, cracking the Earth like an egg, falling through the cracks, into the bowels, lava, molten lead, sulphurous gases released.
But we can’t hear our own screams because the narcissist drowns them out with their SCREAMING, alerting everyone to their distress, enveloping the world with their torment, clouding over, eclipsing the sun, thunder, lightning, downpours… they want to delete it all and start again.
Desperately crying out and holding out for a hero to chase their madness away and turn their epic fairy tale dreams into reality.
Hero after hero comes, each one saves them and then gets turned into a dragon who the next hero must defeat and save them from…
Each time the madness gets madder, the volume gets louder, their love turns to hate, their hate loves to hate too much, the passion, the feelings…
Someone make it STOP!
Play. Stop. Rewind. Repeat.
That’s it from me… over to you.
Featured image is Portrait of a Man by Gert Germeraad