As I was prepping this post to begin writing it, my internet connection experienced a failure. It’s not something worth having a tantrum about unless you’re a narcissist.
The new WordPress editor automatically saves progress seconds after you do anything. If the connection gets disrupted, a little pink banner pops up in the editor to let you know that “Updating failed”.
Since I’m sort of writing about what narcissists are like at this time of year (based on my personal experience), that banner and its message struck me as fitting in perfectly with the subject of this post.
Narcissists tend to see the New Year as an auspicious moment to roll out an updated self… the update often fails to provide them with what they expected, which leads to another whole long year of disappointment and blaming everyone except themselves for that.
The approach of a New Year is like a beacon of great hope for a narcissist. If the Old Year didn’t grant them all their wishes, which it probably didn’t as it is hard for anyone or anything to ever live up to a narcissist’s expectations, there’s always one tiny insignificant something or someone which ruined everything for them, the New Year will.
This year is going to be the year when and where it all happens, it all comes good for them, they get what they deserve (what they think they deserve, not what you think they deserve).
This year is when they make those changes which need to be made for them to live as they should be living. They’re going to be who they were always meant, fated, destined, born to be.
The other night I had this great idea for a project. I brushed it aside. Last night it poked and prodded me again. I put it on a post-it note above my desk. It’ll probably try again and I’ll think about it. But I’m not in a rush to put it into action because…
This time last year I had a great idea for a project. That was Narcie The Narcissist. I was excited about her and her story (not excited enough for Narcie, but poor Narcie, she’s a bit special), and rushed to put it into action.
Quite a few of you enjoyed my Narcie posts. They were a bit of a mess as I worked on figuring out how to evolve it into something less messy, but your support and encouragement let me know that it was okay to keep going no matter how messy I am.
Then it all came to a grinding halt.
I really appreciate all the requests and prompts from you to keep Narcie alive and kicking up a narcissistic storm. When I said she’d be back soon, I really thought she would. But she never did come back and I felt bad about telling you she would be. I like to keep my word, but sometimes the word won’t allow you to keep it.
Several things happened in my life last year which threw me way off the course I had in mind for myself. At first it was an intense fear-filled experience. I curled up in fetal position inside of a womb of doom and gloom.
But then I eventually emerged with a new approach to my life and myself. I’ve been testing it out in the last few months, figuring it out and watching it evolve. It’s scary and exciting, and very ordinary which makes it special for me anyway. I think I may have found my real normal.
Up until now my normal was always under the influence of narcissists. Even when I went No Contact with my particular main narcissists, my parents, their influence kept influencing me.
For a long time after going No Contact I just lived in fear of them finding a way to break the No Contact. I felt as though I had gone into the Witness Protection program, was on the run and hiding from the Mafia, and at any moment something or someone might give me away, suck me back in.
During that time I slowly became my own narcissist to myself and to those around me – I am so pissed off at myself for that period and the behaviour which leaked out of me like toxic farts. That’s not who I wanted to be, that’s not how I wanted to live my life.
But until I dealt with what was causing my system to emit toxicity… that’s who I was and how I was. I wasted so much time, wasted opportunities, and effed up relationships.
In the last decade I have finally come out from under the worst of it, in large part thanks to entering the fray of social media and blogging. You can see some of the changes I’ve gone through in my posts, in my style of writing, in what I was expressing, in how I answered comments, and so on.
I’m looking forward to seeing and experiencing what happens next.
For the first time since never I feel hopeful without the need to remind myself that hope is a bitch. When life gives you narcissists hope becomes a total bitch, because you keep hoping you won’t get sucker punched again, but you do, time and time again.
It’s also the first time in my life that I’m happy to be alive and that happiness isn’t dependent on anyone or anything. I was very happy to be alive when I fell in love with my partner, but that happiness was too dependent on him and on being in love. I clung a little bit too desperately to him and love, and things spiraled downwards from there. Luckily he stuck with me and I didn’t completely eff him up with my needy crazy.
Human love can become a very narcissistic experience. Even the high ideal of unconditional love is very narcissistic…
At least it is when a narcissist gets hold of it. The ultra perfectionist in them does love the ideal of unconditional love from others = you put up with all their batshit, all their tests and quests to prove to them that they are lovable, and love them no matter what they say or do to you.
This time of year can be extra stressful for a narcissist because all of the gremlins inside of them ramp up their levels of need, greed, want. They become hungrier, thirstier, more desperate, more demanding, more competitive than usual.
It’s interesting to note that January is associated with Janus, the two-faced god.
According to Wikipedia (the internet god of all knowledge), Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and ending. He apparently lives at the limits of Earth, at the extremity of Heaven (of course he effing does). And his symbol is two faces with the back of their heads merged together as they look in opposite directions. One of his known names is Janus Fourfaced…
He’s kind of the perfect god of narcissists. Two faces just wasn’t enough, it was a bit too normal, ordinary, not unique, so let’s add more faces!
Most narcissists will have a different face for everyone in their lives. They like to have optional personas. They do not like being limited to one as it might force them to live up to all the promises that persona makes. They usually have a different version of themselves for every occasion, situation and social interaction.
It’ll be crafted partly by them and partly by us – audience participation in their persona is not optional. They need us to reflect who they are back to them so that they know who they are – if they don’t like what they see in the mirror of us, they’ll get rid of us because we’re the problem, bad mirror!
You had one job, Mirror, one job! And that was to make the narcissist believe they were who they were pretending to be. You just can’t trust anyone or find good mirrors. They don’t make them like they used to.
Genocide may be necessary, you brought it on by not being and doing and saying what they needed from you. They need a clean slate!
As this time of year moves towards its pinnacle, its climax, the narcissist also moves with it.
Their expectations become higher reaching stratospheric levels, which means their sensitivity to being disappointed becomes more hyper.
Every little thing becomes huge.
Their magical thinking and miracle making mantras go into overdrive.
Their excessive need to gain approval and be admired, their sense of entitlement, their view that they are exceptionally special, their grandiosity, pomposity, their delusional aspirations, their manipulations, their emotional rollercoaster, their over-reactions, their inability to recognise others as being separate living beings, their reflex to make everything all about them, and everything else becomes more extreme.
For a recap of narcissistic traits and behaviours:
So, how can you tell when narcissistic traits tip over to NPD?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder, the following criteria must be met:
An excessive need for admiration and gaining approval from others
A sense of entitlement, seeing one’s self as exceptional, and condescending behavior
An inability to recognize the feelings and needs of other people
Vast fluctuations in mood
These criteria must be relatively stable across a person’s lifetime and many situations, including in their personal relationships outside of the workplace.
People with narcissistic personality disorder also typically show extreme behavior like:
Overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behaviorexcerpt from Insider: I’m a professor of human behavior, and I have some news for you about the ‘narcissists’ in your life by Melody Wilding
Distorting facts and making false accusations
Enjoyment of getting away with breaking the rules or violating boundaries
Using psychological manipulation like gaslighting, public shaming, and deflection
Aggression and antisocial behavior
The only point in the above excerpt which I am tempted to argue with is “unpredictable thinking or behaviour” – it’s not really unpredictable, that’s a facade just like their persona.
It’s how it appears, but it’s an illusion.
They’re probably the ones who convinced everyone by repeating it over and over until we’re all brainwashed that they are super duper unpredictable = exciting and unusual.
They love to shock and awe us, and what better way to do that than with their wild and crazy thoughts, emotional reactions, and behaviour.
But they’re actually very predictable. They’re tediously predictable. It’s choreographed, the costumes may change but the steps of the dance are always the same. The act sticks to the script. It’s all on a timer.
And that’s part of the problem which we have with them – they never change, it’s the same crazy playing and rewinding to play again and again and again and again.
We keep hoping that they really will be as different as they say they’re going to be, but they never are.
We cross our fingers that this time their new facade, new persona, will be a real one, that they will genuinely make those changes which they’re saying they want to and are going to make.
We keep expecting the unpredictable to happen, but it never does.
Perhaps we’re the ones who decided to say that their behaviour and thinking was unpredictable to make us feel better about falling for it over and over again.
Now what I’m saying may sound unfair, wrong, not at all your experience of narcissists. This is all written about my experience of narcissists, so it fits my story and may not fit yours.
I am the child of two narcissists, therefore I was lucky enough to spend most of my lifetime getting to know just how predictable they are.
It didn’t take me long to notice the patterns, the same story stuck on repeat – I needed to learn quickly to predict what would happen because when hell keeps breaking loose, your survival depends on knowing the ins and outs, ups and downs, of it.
The masks change, but they’re the same masks recycled. The non-lead characters change, but the role is the same regardless of who is playing it in the moment. The story never changes, but there are several different acts within the play, and if you haven’t seen the whole play many times over, it can appear to be a whole new story.
If you read only one book by an author, say Agatha Christie since I was a big fan of her stories and read them all, then that one book can seem amazing. But if you read all of their books, you begin to notice the author’s pattern of storytelling even if all the characters are different, the setting is different, the weapon used is different, and the story seems different. And you’ll be able to predict what’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen and whodunit.
Watch one action film, say one starring Jason Statham, and it is the best action film ever. But watch several more and you’ll notice a pattern even if everything and everyone around him has changed, all Jason Statham films are the same, even that one where he was supposedly breaking free from the usual role he played.
Listen to one Adele song and you’ll be blown away, listen to a whole album of Adele songs and her voice is beautiful, her songs are wonderful, but you’re listening to her because she has a predictable style and sound which you love.
Would you listen to the music of an artist if they had a predictable style and sound which you hated?
There are instances when we seek out those who predictably annoy us because we want to get annoyed and be justified in our annoyance.
There was an article several years ago on Jezebel which stated that a study had shown that people sometimes really like to deliberately make themselves angry, and it asked its readers to share which websites, news sites, and blogs they visited to read something which would piss them off and they went there to read that because they wanted to get pissed off.
Every now and then I see a blog post by a blogger who is having a bit of a rant about someone who follows their blog and regularly leaves unpleasant troll-like comments telling them how shit they think their posts are.
The narcissists in our life can sometimes become the music we love to hate, the website we visit to get pissed off, the blogger whose posts we think are shit and that’s why we follow them and read them. We can predict that they will predictably drive us nuts.
Narcissists are maddening to us because we don’t understand them, why they’re like that, why they won’t change even when all the science says they’re wrong… but more than anything we’re mad at ourselves and it’s their fault because there’s something about them which makes us fascinated with them and we don’t want to be that.
If it makes you feel better… most narcissists have a similar issue with us. Just when they thought they had us pegged, we go and do something which makes no sense to them. Just when they were certain they had total control, we do something which is out of control. Just when they thought they didn’t need us, they could discard us and move on… they get reminded of how useful we were.
We all loudly and freely admit to others that we can’t stand, say the Kardashians, or similar attention seeking people, endless drama factories who fabricate annoying antics for us to gasp at and go nope, just ugh! No! Shut up! Stop it! Go away! Enough already!
But we still find ourselves accidentally keeping up with what they’ve been up to. They’re everywhere, in everything, making it all about them. They won’t go away and we just can’t get away from them.
If a public narcissist goes away, another one always fills the breach. They do not like a void, the space has to be cluttered while they pretend they love spartan minimalism.
If you’re not into celebrity business, you’ll still find a narcissist in other businesses. Do I need to mention… no, I don’t, he’s already popped into your mind and set up a lemonade stand there, he’ll be building a wall next using what’s left of your sanity.
He’s very predictable, though, isn’t he. His unpredictability started being predictable after a short amount of time and exposure to him, didn’t it. When anything happens which you know he’ll react to, you’re counting down aren’t you because you know what to expect.
3… 2… 1… and there you go, meltdown, tantrum, overly emotional and “unpredictable” thinking and behaviour has happened again like it always does. You’re even getting good at knowing exactly what that “unpredictable” thing is going to be… and you’re beginning to really hate yourself for the accuracy of your predictions, or is it that a small tiny voice inside of you hoped it would be different, that the prediction would be wrong.
He’s tediously predictable. He even did the whole ruining Christmas for everyone, making you accompany him in his misery.
He reminds me so much of my father, it’s uncanny. Even the facial expressions, particularly the scrunched up pained look when people challenge his version of reality and facts. It’s the everyone else is such an idiot and being a pain in my ass look.
My father only surprised me twice. When he died because I was certain he’d outlive me. Narcissists cling to life harder than a parasite gripping a not dead yet host. And he was convinced that he was immortal.
Apres death he left an acknowledgment of me as his child. This was after decades of pretending I didn’t exist, wiping all traces of me from his bio, since he had always said that he didn’t want children – he never said that to me, that was my mother who kept telling me that’s what he said. But haha she broke that rule and lived to make me regret it.
But the surprise of him acknowledging me was… well, he only did that to piss my mother off because he knew what she would do once he was dead – narcissists can and do predict what other narcissists will do.
Even once dead, a narcissist finds a way to keep playing their same old story so that others will never forget.
However if you’ve spent much of your life narcissist-free and then find yourself in a relationship with one, the picture you have of narcissists will be different from mine because your experience, your story, is different.
Your freshness to the experience of a narcissist will be a big part of your appeal to the narcissist – you will see them through new eyes, and they love those eyes, so bright, sparkling, and full of hope, joy, dreams and ideals. They want to lose themselves in the beauty of your very special eyes and how they perceive the narcissist, and thus make the narcissist perceive themselves afresh, anew.
Maybe you met someone who initially filled your life with wonderful surprises. They kept shocking and awing you until your head and heart spun around, this must be love, and you fell for them. You’d never met anyone as unusual, exceptional, special, and as exciting as them. To you everything about them was an unknown, an unpredictable.
You’d never met anyone who made you feel the way they made you feel.
Their emotions were so raw and real, passionate and loud, bursting out at the strangest moments. They had all these incredible dreams and ambitions. Impossible was not going to fool them or foil their plans to achieve it. Narc motto – Impossible = I’m possible. They would do and say the craziest things.
One minute you’d be bored by the daily routine of life, and then BAM! they’d appear, sweep you off your feet and whisk you away on an adventure. It scared you, made you uncomfortable, you wanted to run away, but the drama, the fantasy, the fun of allowing yourself to go a little crazy was addictive. It energised you in ways you didn’t know you could be stimulated.
After a while it started to stress you out, it became exhausting to keep up with them and their latest idea, passion, pursuit. Their outbursts of emotion began to wear and tear you down, to pieces. For once could they just press pause and relax in front of the TV, have a pizza, be satisfied with the hum-drum, routine, soothing things.
Bit by bit you found yourself living in a nightmare. Maybe you were just being too whatever bad thing was the latest awful truth they’d told you about yourself which was cramping their style. It was probably your fault, you were to blame, you’d made them whatever terrible mood they were in and they had no control over it even though they’re control freaks. It’s you and not them.
While watching a movie about hostages being held captive by an erratic terrorist who was making excessive demands and wanted to change the world by blowing things and people up… something clicked in your mind.
While watching a soap opera where once again the beautiful heroine had all the heroes madly in love with her and she just couldn’t decide who to choose to be her one and only. Her love was very special, the elite of love, and she couldn’t just hand her heart over to just anyone, they had to win it over and over, quest after quest.
They had all given her expensive gifts, had all dumped other lovers for her, had all abandoned their ambitions to focus on winning her love, had all saved her at least once from some distress and drama she could have avoided getting herself into but didn’t because she was bored and it was entertaining to make others sacrifice themselves to rescue her, to prove their worth to her.
What a bitch, you quietly thought to yourself, she has all the love in the world being offered to her and she’s still playing hard to get, she has all the wealth handed to her on a platter and she’s still playing games, manipulating, wanting more. Nothing is ever enough for her, no one is ever good enough… and then something clicked in your mind and heart.
While watching a romcom about a lover stalking their love until they got them… all the scripted tricks which won their love, the quirky unpredictable behaviour, the crazy emotional rollercoaster, the wild ideas, the special kind of love… it reminded you of the good old days when you first met your narcissist, before the dream became a nightmare. It made you nostalgic, made you wish you were free to rewind back to the beginning and get a redo, but… WAIT!
All those romcoms are so predictable, following a script, the actors playing their parts, directed, created by someone who knows exactly how the story must end for the audience to love it, buy into it and spend loads of money on it. They want the happily ever after of a very special, unique and predictably unpredictable union.
What about what happens after the happily ever after? Does it just rewind and play again? Or do the characters live on getting more and more disappointed because they’re stuck in their personas, in a loop, getting older but never growing up, never allowed to change, never able to move on from dreaming of the big love which lasts forever. Stuck in a wound which needs sacrifices…
Whatever your experience of a narcissist is, wherever you are in your story with a narcissist, whether your narcissist is a personal one, a family one, a romantic one, a friendship one, a workplace one, a social one, or a public figure, a celebrity, a society at large one…
The most important thing to remember is yourself.
And this is a good time of year to consider yourself, what is past, what is present and what the future holds for you.
It’s a good time to look at your own story and tell it to yourself, listen to what it says. Really listen to yourself like a friend and not a foe. Just take time to press pause and listen just to you.
What are you really telling yourself.
What am I telling myself right now in this overly long post which took a few predictably unpredictable twists and turns…
I really wasn’t planning on sharing my Narcie doodles when I started this post.
I wasn’t planning on this post being as long as it is. Yes, all my posts are always long. This one became longer when I re-read it halfway through to shorten it… sigh! But I always learn something about myself, about my own story when I just let things happen rather than trying to control them.
Sometimes something I’ve said in a post which seemed so irrelevant and delete-able, but which I left in anyway stands out later on when I contemplate. It may be just one tiny insignificant sentence or word but it can make all the difference.
Narcissists can make you feel that way about yourself… that you’re a nothing, but if you think about it, it’s the little nothings which narcissists make the biggest fuss about.
That’s it from me…
It’s your turn now, what are you going to do with it?
ps. I thought I’d end this with an old beginning.
Featured image is Street Party – You’re Invited by Judith Carlin