Single White Female

Well, not exactly. It is the internet, you know.

Many of us remember the disturbing hit movies “Single White Female,” “Fatal Attraction,” and more recently “Gone Girl.” I think back to a line in the movie “Sleepless in Seattle,” where Tom Hanks’ character “Sam” references the movie “Fatal Attraction” and comically says how, “…It scared the %*!# out of every man in America!”

And rightfully so, because it should. As humorous as the line was in that movie, untreated personality disorders are certainly no joke.

The shared theme in common within all of these movies is a main character with severe and untreated Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder whose behavior turns sociopathic (Antisocial Personality Disorder).

So grab the popcorn, get comfortable and put your feet up. Ladies and gentlemen please sit back and enjoy the show. Our featured presentation is about to begin. Roll film.

When I began this blog and research journey it was to share, educate, and to identify patterns to some very sudden, bizarre, seemingly out of character, and unexplained mysteries that had (at the time) rendered me instantly shocked and bemused without explanation, and to help anyone else on that same rollercoaster ride of confusion or worse, anyone that is still experiencing manipulation and covert domestic abuse disguised and presented as love. I wanted to provide a place where understanding, education, awareness and outside validation were available to abuse victims. I have received many deeply touching shared stories, messages and thanks from my followers, fellow researchers, and readers and my heart is full hearing I am making a positive difference in others’ lives. It has been a bizarre journey of discovery into the very unfamiliar. Even graduate school and post-graduate trainings did not and could not have prepared me for encountering what was yet to come with these types of severe hidden addictions and disorders. This blog has since become a part-time passion project, a supportive, compassionate crusade for any and all victims of domestic, physically invisible, mental, psychological and emotional abuse. It is ultimately to help create a relatable place for victims and survivors—for Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and education.

There are indeed people who are completely immune to recognizing and acknowledging their own egregious manipulations, their haughty arrogance, and cruel use and treatment of others through their own untreated mental health disorders and ever increasing addictions. Until you experience it first-hand, it’s unimaginable to think of a human being in this way. They cannot see their behaviors accurately beyond their own deep seated feelings of inadequacy and self-entitlement. There will never be any time in between relationships with these individuals. No time for normal, healthy questioning and processing of why they’re never happy long term. There’s no time given to internalizing thoughts of one’s own accountability, consequences, and fault. There is no normal, healthy act of healing or growth after a relationship ending for these individuals. They end each one suddenly without explanation, unless of course someone who has been abused before begins to recognize, begins to catch on and leaves them first, which certainly doesn’t go over well with a Narcissist who must always be in complete control at all times. Each relationship failure after all is a loss no matter how bad or good it was when referencing normal people and normal relationships. With personality disorders such as these, there is no sense of normal feelings of loss regardless of the unique specifics of each one. That’s because there is no object constancy or normal, healthy human attachment for these types of people with these types of personality disorders.

That is why they work so very fast, so very quickly, it’s what they’re desperately trying to avoid. Accountability. A new partner is a (temporary) distraction from these thoughts and eventual (inevitable) consequences of their actions. They cannot be alone–they especially cannot be alone with their own thoughts. It all catches up to everyone eventually. One cannot simply run from themselves to a brand new Narcissistic supply indefinitely and forever in repetition without it one day catching up to them.

You see, their brains simply do not work like normal, healthy brains because well, these are not normal, healthy people. There are hidden infidelities, addictions, perversions, self-inflicted inadequacies disguised as (false) over-confidence, professional fabrications, and years of outright lies and deceit from those who are sadly, shockingly, anything but the man (or less often, the woman) you knew them to be. There is often no warning. An overnight 180. That is how it happens. This is the true nature of these abnormal individuals. That is the pathology of how they work.

Through my in-depth clinical research and professional interviews with other clinicians, as well as other exploration I have uncovered and discovered some of the darkest, most devious situations, individuals and abhorrent lifestyles I had ever heard of in existence. The stuff of prime time drama and televised unsolved mysteries. The kind of stuff that is so twisted, you just can’t make it up. Truth is sometimes more shocking than fiction. Through that clinical research, and through the many loving, wonderful souls who reached out with their continued friendship and offered support during the puzzle piecing discovery efforts, those who also shared their own personal experiences and stories of things I was completely unaware of–long-time mutual acquaintances and friends, exes with incredibly similar/familiar stories of witnessing substance addiction, (one had sadly been undergoing cancer treatment at the time, and is thankfully healthy now. It also left an innocent child to go through years of therapy and counseling. I literally broke down in tears upon hearing that story for the very first time, although it explained much) the patterned infidelity, and 180 degree sudden personality changes, business associates, colleagues, former employers, college associates, neighbors and even family, —some of whom have been witness to repetitious behavior pattern for many years, they helped teach what they all already knew. I will be discussing this and more in greater detail in my book.

Pure poetic justice is a rare and unusual turn of events. That’s what makes it poetic. You see, the con can eventually become the conned. When karma, if you will takes over “she” can position the con on the receiving end of being conned, of being played. This is the beginning of our featured film.

What happens when you take a life-long, deeply troubled individual who single-handedly destroys his reputation and long-term friendships through revelations of his own poor choices and fabrications, years of coat-tail riding and use of others, and deep deceptions who unknowingly connects online with an also deeply troubled couple who is closing in on seven figures of deep indebtedness who have long lived above their means with homes, cars, substance and pornographic addictions, routine occurrences of 911 calls for unconscious face-plantings, recreational and cosmetic drugs and injectables, mental illness, revolving doors of polyamory/homosexuality/bisexuality, multiple foreclosures, liens, bankruptcies, spurious “foundations and charities,” domestic violence, assault, battery, restraining orders, injunctions (all things of public record), countless expensive plastic surgeries, multiple facial and body implants appearing to result from untreated Body Dismorphic Disorder and years of sudden repeated drastic weight gain and weight loss? A big problem in need of a solution. The solution? Enter online-internet dating.

Grab your popcorn…

It’s perfect. Look online for someone vulnerable and foolish with money to make their financial troubles disappear, or at the very least make a dent in them. Get divorced (but quietly remain pseudo-together as always), then marry and take all you can for as long as it lasts, for as long as one can hold up their BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) mask before it inevitably falls, and it always falls in time. When both parties have happily long engaged in an anything goes open marriage arrangement, what’s the difference? What’s adding one more troubled soul into the collective mix as they’re depleting the final, fixed, finite funds in one’s trust because well, it isn’t a replenishing resource. Especially if one has money to bring to the table that they do not. Especially if he too is running, trying to escape from himself and his misdeeds to so many in his close circle. Shared commonalities bring birds of a feather to flock together. An impending Hollywood style disaster awaits.

Imagine, he had secretly found his new Narcissistic supply (on internet dating apps this time not through personal introductions like before because he wasn’t single at the time), as he was well seasoned and patterned to do, but this time he had unknowingly become someone else’s internet prey in the process. By now most everyone knows the dangers of the internet, it is frequently filled with hidden criminals looking to scam people for financial gain. (This makes me think of another one of my favorite Hollywood movie lines, “Normal people don’t go trolling for dates online.”) Something he likely hadn’t considered or counted on happening, happened. Something he is likely unaware of and in the dark about. Or is he? Either way, even Shakespeare himself couldn’t have penned better irony.

When there’s a complete absence of the acknowledgment of deep, hidden shame and complete lack of humility and common sense, it leaves one dangerously vulnerable to becoming the victim themselves. The kind of scamming, desperate, devious intentioned people that even Narcissists were previously not used to associating with, even in their manipulative lifelong pattern of behavior. Recklessly allowing unauthorized use and blatant misuse by giving access to one’s work email account for use by an unauthorized user to threaten another– would have previously been out of character. A lowered level of lifestyles and deceitful deviousness quickly instills. The rural methods of conning begin, giving way to transitions from firmly positioned (somewhat arrogant) standards of Michelin 5 Stars to Waffle Houses and all-inclusive resorts, from hotels to motels, from penthouses to parking garages.

These are individuals with untreated Cluster B dependent personalities: Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder.* As if all the before mentioned things weren’t enough, imagine a whole additional set of afflictions as well–with pedophiliacs and registered sex offenders. The sheer candor and matter-of-fact tone of an individual’s tales can truly leave one at a loss for words. It had become so routine they were completely unaware of and unphased by this lifestyle’s abnormality. The attempted explanation one would offer for the pedophilia/registered sex offender status was said to be a “misunderstanding” with authorities that resulted from public urination and indecent exposure near an elementary school. Another fabrication. That is not how that happens. Frighteningly scary, unimaginable stuff. Things difficult to hear and read, and more difficult to write. More than most of us could ever think of and who knows how much more there is that hasn’t been shared and uncovered. These are the kind of people most consciously avoid coming face-to-face with in real-life and hope only to fictionally see on-screen (if that), inside of a theater. A darkness most of us hope to never have to encounter in our lives. While not all are online to scam another, they are out there—lurking and looking for victims to use in some manner in the world of online internet dating. It is however, earned poetic justice at its finest for any abuser. The predator becomes the prey.

This blog has certainly created tremendous waves with those both inside and outside of abuse. Some much prefer to hide out away from reality, to try to camouflage truth, to avoid the forest for the trees, to take the rural dirt road of denial and switch zip codes for a more simple minded populous that’s more easily confounded. To finally feel like the bigger fish is much easier in a new and much smaller pond. One that would require less effort to deceive, to brush things under a rug and pretend reality and truth doesn’t exist by starting over in a newer, simpler “pond.” (There’s a reason all these common expressions and sayings exist). To outwardly pretend to go through the motions, to try to appear to (once again) move forward while rapidly spiraling downward into yet another fabricated, dark abyss. Rose-colored glasses. Fake it til you make it. They don’t wish to have truth in from of them or to be reminded of their misdoings and ever growing illnesses. It makes it much more difficult to ignore it that way. It makes their roles that much more challenging to play. It also makes them vulnerable to becoming victimized themselves.

When plaguing mental illness eventually gives birth to individuals completely void of any authentic conscience, more often than not people are uncomfortable with it and feel more at ease to ignore its existence. Truth can often be a threat to a ulterior plan. Uncovering and exposing honest truth makes pathological liars very uncomfortable and uneasy within themselves and their environment. What had been uncovered went far beyond any expectations, it is the epitome of poetic justice. The kind of justice a healthy person couldn’t dream up, the kind of truth that’s more shocking than fiction, the kind that finds its deserving individuals and serves itself to them voluntarily, right upon a proverbial silver platter.

However, it is all deeply tragic and very sad. One simply cannot be without some amount of pity even for abusers, because it will very likely not end well once the masks do fall. We have all seen the before mentioned movies. Those characters were all based on real clinical pathology and BPD and sociopathic behavior patterns and turned into edge of your seat Hollywood drama. Even as cruelly and unconscionable as one may have been treated, a healthy person could not treat another person in these same ways, even after experiencing ongoing abuse. I am a deeply compassionate professional and a woman of tremendous faith. I believe in following the laws of God and the laws of our great land. God promises us, He sees all and He has the final word. There is great difference between justice and revenge, and neither of them is ever ours. Sometimes though if He sees fit and we’re very lucky, we get to see that promise fulfilled and hopefully with a ring-side seat.

I think the take away from this, or the moral of the story and impending final lesson of this “festering featured film” will be that this world is sadly full of many lost, misguided, and deeply afflicted and addicted people who are not now and never will be happy long-term. They can even masterfully blend unnoticed for years into society. It is important to finely tune your intuition and discernment of others to avoid becoming their prey. (You might also want to consider avoiding online dating apps for safety and security). These types will inflict their own inner pain and problems onto their victims and there’ll be new, even more future victims yet to come. Untreated they do not change, but become worse with time and with age. Adult children who become cognizant of the enormity of the increasing dysfunction, the existing addictions and illnesses, and the patterns of destruction that plague their parent will eventually no longer care and keep themselves and their families safely, far away from their mentally ill parent and their ever rebounding new partners.

Our society fuels the misconception of looking for one’s happiness through another person which can exacerbate an already existing skewed view of reality in the addicted and mentally ill. We do not find our happiness through another person, we find it within ourselves and through the kind of life we choose to live–whether it is kind, honest and lived with purpose, or of false personas, greed, envy, sin, abuse, deception, and ulterior motives of using another without their conscious knowledge. If that life is indulgent and greedy and lived only to serve one’s self, one will never be satisfied or happy long term. Everything will always be temporary. A ticking clock, awaiting inevitable expiration. They will constantly be looking for new happiness in another, then another and another, ad nauseam, ad infinitum. It is in giving that we receive. In constant using and taking, one is never satisfied, never truly satiated. Take these types of individuals as cases in point. People with a half dozen “marriages” and they still believe the problem is everyone else. It is the nature of their disorders as authentic love is not in their wheel house or their vernacular. Like every time before, they’ll convince each other through misrepresentation, mirroring and projection that this time it is different. Or, have they really? Angered, exposed Narcissists will blindly stop at nothing in an attempt to hurt their exposer, even at their own expense. It’s as if they’re intentionally poisoning themselves but expecting another person to be the one who suffers. It just doesn’t work that way. It is they who will suffer their self-inflicted pain and toxicity. Desperate times call for desperate measures on each and every side of shared dysfunctional triangles. It will be different all right, but certainly there is no happily ever after ahead for these cons. In all likelihood one is actually playing them both, and others. Two (through a sense of competition and mirroring) are reportedly beginning to dress alike and even physically resemble one another in a newfound disheveled, unkempt appearance. Ladies and gentleman, please enjoy the film…and as we all know, the inevitable sequels to come.

Learn, study, keep your eyes open, be discerning, identify and steer clear of any individual whom you suspect may have these untreated Cluster B personality disorders with co-occurring substance addictions. What you ignore you empower. In the end most abusers will change zip codes. They rarely stay in the same place once they’ve been exposed or for those at the tail end of their careers where their reputation is lost and is no longer of importance to them. To them it just no longer matters like before. They’re now free to openly live the kind of lifestyle they’d previously kept well hidden from view for years.

Once you are safely away from the abuse, that is when you truly will begin to live your best life. Get away quickly if you suspect any of these issues in your life and if they refuse to discuss it with you or refuse to get any help. Go no contact. They can and most certainly will take you right down with them if you don’t.

Enjoy the film and it’s sequels, and be grateful when you’re safe. Safe and free to now sit in the audience to watch the show and no longer have a roll in the film. Oh…and of course, most importantly, don’t forget the popcorn. 💜🦋


The Lying, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Closet)

Many know through experience there are few worse things than suddenly discovering and uncovering, in the cases of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a lifetime of personal (and often professional) lies, deceit, fabrications, secrets, patterned infidelity and betrayal. Yes, there are few worse feelings then suddenly and unexpectedly learning you’ve been lied to about most everything you were ever told throughout the course of a long relationship by a well seasoned deceiver. There’s also nothing quite like the wrath and fury of a covert Narcissist whose disorder has finally been exposed.

Accepting that realization that you were just one of many, many victims, many “beards” over many, many years is a most dreadful experience and unfortunately not as uncommon as one might think. Learning that everything was manufactured, everything was well calculated, well strategized and planned as they spent years creating a false persona to reel you in, to then eventually move from person to person throughout their lives as the truth begins to unravel again over time with each new person. And it unravels over time, every time. So many out there have hidden secrets that still have yet to be discovered. One wonders if some ever will.

In this era, it’s hard to imagine that latent homosexuality of the past (subconsciously suppressed) still exists even at a time when so many have authentically, safely emerged from the closet even well into and beyond middle age after decades of hiding behind countless unknowing, unsuspecting (mostly) female victims, some of whom still to this day may not know what happened so suddenly in their relationship facade, and why, because they hid it so well.

The ones who emerge can go on to live their true, authentic life outside their “dark shadow” as postulated by Carl Jung and make peace within themselves. Sadly, some Narcissistic abuse victims may innocently blame themselves as they were systematically brainwashed, programmed and conditioned to do as unknowing pawns to keep so many of the narcissist’s secrets hidden from public view.

Many latent homosexuals have covert Narcissistic Personality Disorder and substance addictions are also common. The years of their self-hatred can be contradictory and confusing while remaining buried indefinitely, but likely will become clear and evident when they reach a crisis point in their life and cannot maintain the facade and continue holding up their mask. Sadly, some of their countless victims never get those answers, but will likely heal in time regardless of their understanding of their abuser’s deep-seated issues.

Once it does comes to light, one may wonder how they ever missed it as the pieces of the puzzle suddenly fall smoothly, logically together and in place, fitting like a glove. The isolation strategies and tactics, the control they placed on your schedule, who your friends and associations were– even to the point of forbidding friendships with certain people that didn’t meet their approval. (In hindsight it was always the ones who could see them in their true form and who could reveal them to their victim).

The love of certain designers preferred by a very specific population demographic, the uncharacteristic music preferences, the obsession with custom made clothing, the extremely tight fitting pants, and the “flagging” of the long sleeve shirts all methodically grouped by color, shade, fabric, and sleeve length. The unexplained mood shifts and sudden anger directed at themselves and others. The chronic OCD. The familial pattern of several out of the closet homosexuals (while some are still hidden) in their DNA pool. The narcissistic obsession with money. The childhood through adulthood gay friend who died of AIDS who they claim they never knew was gay. The skipping, the crossed legs, the pinkie finger that never touches the glass, the anger and fury with themselves upon the slightest bit of weight gain, the hunger strike until the weight gain is gone, the obsession with everyone else’s weight around them from neighbors, relatives, friends and coworkers. The constant belittling, put-downs and criticisms of everyone around them. The ability to mimic and mirror whatever new lifestyle and new zip code they are once again attempting to hide behind. The jealousy and envy of anyone they know whom they feel is authentic, more socially, professionally and financially successful than themselves. The Alcoholism. The pattern over the years of countless sudden splits, divorces, and the consequential repeated pattern of very fast moving new relationships, hidden infidelities, re-coupling and remarrying with no time in between. In their minds, that chaos and confusion will create the questioning of others, but only when it’s been used a few times, after that it no longer works and their true identity becomes clearly seen and visible.

The misogyny, the vehement despising of all and any women with feminine values and glorification of (only) women with masculine values, masculine tendencies and masculine features they admire such as an appearance of athletic prowess and perceived financial success they can camouflage their identity behind. The desperation to move quickly from one person to another in an attempt to appear normal and regain lost credibility from their bizarre behavior. The unexplained obsession and hatred of homosexuals. The last ditch attempt to keep the closet door shut. The desperation within the downward spiral and choice of new beards. The chronicled behavior pattern and prediction of sudden resorting to overtly masculine females, ones with dark, disturbing lifestyles with sketchy, shady backgrounds, reputation and history. Ones with similar patterns and disorders of their own such as substance abuse and addiction, Histrionic with Borderline Personality Disorders, Antisocial Personality Disorder, and Narcissistic features. What a pending disastrous implosion when two people with the same or very similar patterns and personality disorders join forces to deceive and use the other for their own hidden agendas.

Eventually, time catches up to all abusers and karma if you will, begins to step in. The taker gets taken in a seemingly altruistic display of the universe’s idea of poetic justice for all their long lines of unknowing, previous victims. The abuser now becomes the victim in a strange twist of fate.

People with Cluster B personality disorders must work very quickly because they cannot hold their masks up indefinitely. It doesn’t take much pressure for the sociopathy and psychopathy to reveal itself so they must lock in their next victim very quickly. These are notoriously addicted, unstable, impulsive, unpredictable, highly promiscuous, attention seekers, who are frequently flamboyant, socially inappropriate, and extremely hyper-sexual and even pansexual. They often believe laws and societal rules do not apply to them. This is often an outwardly desperate attempt by the latent homosexual narcissist to find any arousal by the opposite sex and stay hidden in the closet.

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is a personality disorder that tends to co-occur with other personality disorders, particularly borderline personality disorder(BPD), narcissistic, and dependent personality disorders. There is a great deal of overlap between BPD and HPD features, so much so that some experts believe that HPD may not actually be distinguishable from BPD. Patients with histrionic personality disorder use their physical appearance, acting in inappropriately seductive or provocative ways, to gain the attention of others. They lack a sense of self-direction and are highly suggestible, often acting submissively to retain the attention of others. Estimated prevalence is < 2% of the general population. It is diagnosed more often in women, but this finding may reflect only a greater prevalence among women in clinical settings, where the data were obtained. In some studies, prevalence in women and men was similar. Comorbidities are common, particularly other personality disorders (antisocial, borderline, narcissistic), suggesting that these disorders share a biologic vulnerability or casting doubt on whether histrionic personality disorder is a separate disorder. Some patients also have somatic symptom disorder, which may be the reason they present for evaluation. Major depressive disorder, dysthymia, and conversion disorder may also coexist. *

As previously mentioned in my past articles, “The Shadow Knows, The Troubled and the Toxic, and The Closet Eviction” these Cluster B personality disorders are becoming more common and prevalent in our society as we inadvertently and unknowingly encourage and enable them to metastasize. As previously stated, when what is hidden inside one’s dark shadow isn’t addressed and treated, they will leave a path of destruction for their unknowing victims, their friends, and even their children. Sometimes when they become desperate they may unknowingly reel in another Cluster B just like themselves who is also wearing a mask. Ironically and quite poetically, their new victim will become their abuser. There’s nothing else like the wrath and fury of a Narcissist whose mask is down and whose identity is exposed.

It is important to research your concerns and not to dismiss the red flags along the way by finding and making excuses for their unusual behavior. It will not change, it will not go away, it simply continues and grows as they age. The coping mechanisms they’ve developed over the years such as substance abuse and addiction will also increase in depth, complexity and severity, even when it’s quickly breaking down and is no longer working as well for them as it used to.

Empower yourself, learn and become familiar with the signs and the red flags you may have missed so you know what to look for in the future and be cognizant of these behaviors. Do not make excuses for them. Most importantly once you’ve identified it in anyone, partner or friend, go no contact for your own safety and quality of life. This includes any family members or enablers of the Narcissistic abuser who may have indeed acknowledged, recognized, and admitted to being aware of the abuse you endured, but will then choose to ignore, enable and look the other way pretending it does not exist in front of the abuser and their next victim. Just as they likely did while you were being abused.

One simply cannot save someone from themselves, but you can save yourself from being a part of their eventual self-destruction. You can and you will become whole again after Trauma Bonding and Narcissistic Abuse. Forgive yourself for not knowing the signs and identifying your abuser before it was too late. Remember this is not normal behavior and it is not your fault for not knowing the signs. Grow, heal, create safe boundaries, and begin to put yourself first again.



My Heartfelt Wish for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

I have a birthday wish this year. It’s a first, a new one for sure. It is for all survivors of Narcissistic/Psychological/Emotional Abuse Survivors. And yes I do mean survivors.

My wish is that one day this type of domestic abuse will be more commonly recognized and visible. Physical abuse has tangible proof. Narcissistic abuse is hidden, covert, long-term, subtle, and unseen. It is worse than physical because of its traumatic depth as physical abuse heals much faster.

The abuser slowly, systematically chips away at your soul destroying your sense of self and sense of independence. They don’t go after weak people, they target the strong and independent. They do this in order to control you and to take from you. A narcissistic abuser uses people as objects to further their own agenda and goals and there are few to no warning signs until they begin to see you are on the verge of uncovering it all and exposing them, their lies, and their abuse.

We all know the rath of an exposed Narcissist is nothing to joke about. They will project, lie, and make enemies from lifelong friends faster than one can blink once the truth is exposed. Normal relationships do not come to a sudden, unexplained end overnight, but a Narcissist has a pattern of such endings, even if you’re unaware of it at the time.

A narcissist will plant negative seeds in the minds of their remaining supporters around them unbeknownst to the victim while they are quietly preparing for the sudden discard. The narcissist will begin laying the path for the discard quietly once they have their sights on a new victim who they can easily manipulate. They will begin saying subtle negative things about their partner unbeknownst to the partner whom they regularly shower with love and affection making up with them every time after subtle abuse, until they have found a replacement target and new victim. The ego of a Narcissist will stop at nothing and will always protect itself from the truth being exposed. Trauma Bonding/Stockholm Syndrome Brainwashing is the stuff of horror films and nightmares. It is paralyzing, numbing and completely sinister.

The past months of my life have been the most profound months of my life. I have learned so much about Cluster B personalities and about people in general beyond the scope of my formal education. As an empath, as a counselor, coach and therapist my deep compassion and empathy for those who have experienced this type of sinister abuse has grown from empathetic to I literally now get it and understand and feel your pain. I am seeing more and more of it too as time goes by.

Sometimes the worst part of it is the after effects of a few (very few fortunately) people that you quickly learn have no compassion or empathy for another’s pain. Whether it is an intentional lack of compassion by some who use the abuser for their own personal gain (flying monkeys as they’re commonly called or tongue biters and enablers) or intentional, the pain is still the same.

Imagine asking a burn victim and survivor of a horrific fire if they would like to go to a fireworks display or a bonfire. Imagine asking a plane crash survivor who can still smell the smoke in their hair if they would like to fly out this coming weekend somewhere fun. While these events may sound wonderful to you to a traumatized person it is invalidating and re-traumatizing. It is much the same when you ask a victim and survivor of this type of narcissistic abuse if they are dating again. The last thing any healthy person who has experienced this type of deep trauma and betrayal wants to do is to be re-traumatized. This trauma has been subtly ongoing, like the subtle chipping away of an ice sculpture. The reaction to imagining dating is felt physically.

NAS (Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome) is a form of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). It is usually never seen or recognized by the victim while it is happening to them. It isn’t discovered, recognized or uncovered until the relationship has ended and they are safely away from the ongoing daily abuse. A Narcissist is a master craftsman at making Narcissistic Abuse appear as love.

My wish is for more awareness of this very common type of domestic abuse. Emotional/Psychological/Narcissistic/Mental Abuse is severely traumatic for the victim and survivor. The years of ongoing gaslighting, love bombing, then stonewalling then repeating the cycle until inevitable discard is unimaginably traumatizing and destructive for the victim.

If anyone you know and care about has experienced it, give them your love, patience, support and empathy. No one expects anyone who hasn’t personally experienced it to truly understand what they’ve been through, but compassion, support and empathy doesn’t require understanding.

My wish is for more compassion for survivors as they begin to recover and heal from the horrific abuse of brainwashing and control in these types of domestic abuse.

Once the burns begin to heal and the smoke begins to clear out of your hair one day, when you feel whole again perhaps re-coupling will be something you choose to do once you’re trained in recognizing the subtle unseen signs of a Covert Narcissist. The trauma does not go away. One can heal from trauma but it takes a lot of time and patience for yourself and from those around you. It will likely be necessary to remove certain people out of your life who re-traumatize you and have no compassion or understanding for what you have been through. No one can truly understand or imagine the devastation that is experienced by another’s attempt to destroy them until they’ve experienced it first-hand themselves.

My wish, in closing, is that all survivors of all types of domestic abuse are treated with love and compassion as they begin their journey of healing and trusting others and their own judgment of people again. It does get better as you learn and yes, you will heal. As a survivor of this type of sinister, subtle abuse for many years, that is my birthday wish.

Cheers to health, to healing, and to the infinite possibilities.

Love, light and an abundance of blessings to you in the New Year.


4 Behaviors That Unmask Narcissists

If you’d asked me a few years ago whether the person I was involved with was a narcissist, I would have answered “absolutely not.” He had none of the hallmarks that make it relatively easy for a layperson to spot a narcissist—the grandiosity, the need to be the center of attention, the haughty or overbearing remarks and competitiveness. He didn’t display the preening, the need to manipulate, or, of course, the lack of empathy. He didn’t appear to fit any of those definitions; in fact, if anything, he was quiet and not that into socializing, intent on not drawing attention to himself. He was insouciant about his appearance except in professional situations, and relatively laid-back. He was a thoughtful giver of gifts, willing to accommodate to my needs and—for me, at least—perhaps a bit too happy being by himself and away from the company of others. Does that sound like a narcissist to you? It didn’t to me.

He had other flaws I didn’t know about and discovered, none of which flashed a neon billboard that said NARCISSIST.

What I didn’t understand at the time and do now is that the narcissist shows his true colors in conflict. That point is brought out with clarity by two new books on the subject, Re-thinking Narcissism by Dr. Craig Malkin and The Narcissist You Know by Dr. Joseph Burgo (both are also bloggers on this site), and borne out by my own personal experience. Both of these authors take the position that the narcissist is, in fact, emotionally wounded. The behaviors he or she evinces are efforts to disguise or assuage the pain of that wounded self.

It’s in conflict—when even the healthiest among us becomes defensive and self-protective—that the narcissist reveals him or herself in fullness. They fully expose their lack of empathy—the cornerstone of the narcissist—because when the narcissist feels threatened, winning or succeeding to protect him or herself is all that matters, not consequences. A narcissist’s focus and determination to win at any cost underscore the shallow nature of their emotional connections—to you and to all others.

What kind of conflict shows the narcissist’s true stripes? The answer is all and any, ranging from the petty tiff to divorce court. If it’s the latter, abandon all hope of a reasonable negotiation or mediation; the true narcissist does neither. To borrow a term from the military, the narcissist’s policy is scorched earth, destroying everything and leaving nothing behind as he or she advances or withdraws—not a shred of connection or memory, respect for past connections, relationships, or the welfare of others involved in the conflict. The narcissist’s willingness to lie is nothing short of extraordinary and he or she will be completely unconcerned whether someone finds those lies out or not. It’s lack of empathy on steroids or, to put it better, aggrandized and entitled. The motto of the narcissist? “What you think of me is none of my business,” and he or she really means it.

If lack of empathy is one of the narcissist’s key characteristics, I think we often misunderstand it. Some of the difficulty may have to do with distinguishing fully between sympathy and empathy. When we are sympathetic, we connect largely through intellectual understanding and feel badly about the situation in which a person finds him or herself. Empathy is an emotional response in which we literally feel another’s pain as opposed to understanding his or her pain in the abstract. The truth is that most of us are not consistently empathic, nor are we equally skilled at this most important trait.

So what, precisely, makes the narcissist different?

The answer is his or her utter separateness. It’s not simply that he or she doesn’t feel for others and their pain; it’s that the level of connection, of attunement, is utterly foreign. Since you can be sympathetic on a very superficial level (writing a check and contributing to charity; being helpful by dropping off your neighbor’s dry cleaning; recommending your attorney to the guy who needs one), many narcissists appear quite sympathetic because they like looking good in the eyes of others. More important, they like reassuring themselves that they’re nice guys or gals. Empathy is another matter entirely.

Here are four behaviors that might tip you off to the real personality you’re dealing with:

1. Plays emotional “hot potato”

Kudos to Craig Malkin for giving this a name and for singling it out as one of the narcissist’s behaviors. Malkin identifies “hot potato” as a form of projection, as in the following scenario: You try talking to your partner about his dismissiveness and lack of connection and he responds by saying that he’s not dismissive but he’s just not willing to respond to your anger and constant complaints. The reality is that what you are saying is irritating the daylights of him—his jaw muscles are working and he’s on his way to being really frosted—but rather than own those feelings, he assigns them to you. (This explanation aligns with Malkin’s view that keeping the inner wound hidden is one of the narcissist’s primary motivations.) It’s entirely possible, of course, that if this continues, you will feel angry even if you didn’t start out feeling that way. Playing hot potato permits the narcissist to gain the upper hand.

Since the narcissist isn’t actually interested in what you feel or think—or making things better between you, for that matter—the game of hot potato will work to your disadvantage, especially if you care about him or her. You will probably feel guilty—“He wasn’t wrong, I was angry—until the moment in time when you have an epiphany and finally get it.

I’d like to add a personal observation about the game of emotional hot potato: They can play consciously to manipulate you but it can also be unconscious behavior on the narcissist’s part. In any case, what emerges from hot potato is the narcissist’s vision of what really happened and it will all boil down to one basic theme: It’s always your fault and never his or hers. The inability and unwillingness to take responsibility for actions and words under any circumstances are also narcissistic hallmarks.

2. Withdraws and then attacks if a demand is made

Some have described demand/withdraw as the most toxic of relationship patterns for good reason: It’s part of a downward spiral that often ends in the failure of the relationship. You don’t need a narcissist in the dyad, by the way, to have the pattern take over. Essentially, what happens is that one person (usually the woman, but not always) makes a demand for some issue to be fixed or addressed and the other partner withdraws physically and emotionally—stonewalling, folding his arms, etc. The pattern is particularly toxic because escalation is built into it—needs unanswered, the person demanding will become increasingly frustrated and usually louder. Of course, this simply means the person withdrawing will increase his efforts. Both parties feel aggrieved and put upon.

The narcissist’s habit of playing hot potato means that, put in the withdraw position, he or she will either withdraw or become incredibly aggressive—essentially blaming his or her partner for making the demand in the first place, casting it as sign of his or her flawed nature, etc. That’s hot potato combined with a classic toxic pattern. It not only throws the partner off, but, again, makes her more open to being manipulated into thinking that it’s all her fault. (Again, feel free to change up the genders in the description; female narcissists act the same way.)

3. Vindictive to the max

According to Joseph Burgo, this is actually a narcissistic type. To be honest, it was his description that clued me into the fact that the person I’d married was a narcissist after all. Forget meeting in the middle, settling your differences or, if you’re unlucky enough to be in a situation where you need an attorney, mediating; the vindictive narcissist will do none of the above. Lies are the arrows in the narcissist’s quiver, and it often doesn’t matter how outrageous they are. Perhaps most tellingly, the narcissist seeks to portray him or herself as a victim of injustice—not as a seeker of revenge or someone motivated to win—regardless of the circumstances. As Burgo writes:

“Because of his distorted, defensive relationship to reality, the Extreme Narcissist often believes the lies he tells, both to himself and other people. He doesn’t see himself as a liar but rather as an embittered defender of the ‘truth’ as he has come to see it.”

As Burgo points out (and as I can personally attest), the vindictive narcissist may proceed sounding reasonable, despite the fact that everything he or she says is a lie. This person will do what he or she can to impugn you, spread rumors about you, attack your reputation, or whatever else comes to hand. It doesn’t matter that none of it is true. That makes it hard fighting her or him—in an office, a community, in a family, or especially in a court of law. The usual rules of decent behavior simply do not exist.

The vindictive narcissist’s hustle often takes in otherwise capable and intelligent people, including attorneys and judges. Most of us are hesitant to believe that every word an individual utters is an outright lie, especially if it is easily discovered. But that only works in the narcissist’s favor: It’s his words against yours, after all, and he doesn’t mind grandstanding.

4. Indifferent to emotional outcomes

In my experience—as a person who has lived more than six decades but isn’t a psychologist or a therapist—most people want to come out of combative situations losing as few of their personal connections and relationships as possible. They want to feel that they have behaved reasonably well and fairly under the circumstances. That’s one reason mediation works but that’s not true of the vindictive narcissist, who could care less. If he (or she) ends up with scorched earth, that’s no big deal. He will see destroyed relationships as a necessary cost of getting what he deserves.

Of course, discovering that the person you’re dealing with may be a narcissist after all doesn’t help other than to arm you with knowledge as you think about and analyze his or her behavior. Knowing how the person responds in conflict will not only help you prepare and strategize, but help prepare you for the sorry truth. There’s probably no reasonable way to stop the merry-go-round because exhausting you (and your resources, for that matter) is part of the narcissist’s scorched earth policy.

It’s no wonder that recovering from conflict with a narcissist is so hard, frustrating, and sometimes embittering.

Peg Streep

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The Closet Eviction: Unmasking the Latent Homosexual-Covert Narcissist

In my experience, it IS common for a covert narcissist to be gay or bisexual and to always USE a woman as cover, (their MASK), to appear straight to the outside world. Covert narcs operate in complete secrecy. Manipulation and deception is their specialty.

A common theory regarding the fluid nature of a narcissist’s sexuality, involves their inability to maintain Object Constancy. Anyone who’s ever known a narc personally or intimately, understands the Truth of this statement perfectly…

It’s in a Narcissist’s very nature to change their minds about anything and everything–in a Split Second. They bore easily, need constant stimulation and have a hard time committing themselves to any one place, person or set of principles.

They prefer to keep their options open, while keeping their agendas hidden. Their need for constant admiration and pleasure-seeking thrills, drives them to experiment with anyone and anything–anytime, anywhere.

They do whatever feels good to them, without any hesitation. The rules do NOT apply to a narcissist. While some narcs may be completely homosexual, most of them view gender as trivial and inconsequential when it comes to meeting their needs for excitement and supply…

A narcissist has NO internal brakes to apply whatsoever. They don’t question themselves, or allow others to question them. They don’t respect others, value outside opinions or honor anyone else’s standards—and they NEVER concern themselves with other people’s feelings. They have NO boundaries and no capacity to recognize the validity of anybody else’s.

They’re elusive, predatory, opportunistic, shapeshifters; who live in a manufactured, fantasy world. Their world revolves exclusively around them and exists solely to Elevate their Status and Serve their endless needs…

The fact that so little is known about the true sexual nature of a narcissist, should come as no surprise… Everything they intentionally do, is meant to deceive, confuse and remain hidden in plain sight.

Very few people know what’s really going on behind a narcissist’s mask. Those that do, professional or otherwise, have a hard time establishing their “shifty” personality disorders as fact. They’re magicians and clever chameleons, capable of masterminding anything.

Any Disordered type of narcissist will fiercely guard their true nature and questionable identity from everyone they meet. The success of their charade, Depends on Total Anonymity. Self-preservation motivates them to manipulate or destroy anyone who threatens to reveal them…

All narcs lack a neurotypical conscience, as well as a fundamental Inability to connect emotionally with anyone. In fact, they actively distance and disengage from anyone who gets too close to them. Getting too personal or emotional with a narcissist, is the one thing they all Fear–the most.

Additionally, it’s classic textbook behavior for all narcs to exhibit an inability to feel remorse, regret, responsibility or EMPATHY… These are the very Dynamics that make it possible for a covert narc or otherwise, to be homosexual, pansexual or bisexual in orientation. They’re Uninhibited, Unrestricted and Wreckless by Nature. For them to use another individual, or a woman to accomplish their objective, is a given..

But the burden of having to live with such a Distorted, Disguised, Uncertain Reality; is a Mind-Shattering, earth-shaking, identity-stealing nightmare. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

It’s outrageously unfair and egregiously deceptive for any Gay or Bisexual man to marry a woman who believes they have an exclusive, committed, traditional and mutually understood relationship Together. She is there solely to exist as his Scapegoat, his object of constant Ridicule and his target for unrelenting Rejection.

Anyone who engages in such a practice, is an obvious covert narcissist. If a person believes they have a right to take whatever they want, whenever they want; without any fear of consequence or feelings of remorse for the damage being done: they meet the diagnostic criteria and the very definition of a Shameless, self-centered narcissist…

If a gay or bisexual man feels “ENTITLED,” to marry a woman for the sake of protecting their image and their appearance in society, what does that tell you?

It tells me they feel Superior, Entitled, Comfortable Living with Lies and that they care more about protecting Their Appearance, then they do about protecting the people they supposedly love, who’ve sacrificed their whole world to build a relationship with them… It’s a Criminal disregard for other people’s rights, that enables them to treat women like property…

The reality of being tricked and forced into such a punishing existence, is no less than HIJACKING someone else’s life completely… Any woman being fooled and led blindly into such a relationship; loses their ability to participate in a genuine, loving relationship.

Some even unknowingly sacrifice their ability to have children with these Pretenders. Eventually, these women lose all sense of direction and any expectations for having a normal relationship. Their lives are destroyed and their future is corrupted. Their identity and self-esteem have been irrevocably dismantled…

A gay narcissist never had any intentions of committing to a woman in the first place. They alone, knew what they were getting into and made that choice for themselves.

They also Choose to keep engaging in same-sex relationships on the side, while making their partners feel inadequate or responsible for the sudden lack of intimacy and understanding in the relationship.

It’s a cruel, oppressive and manipulative relationship from the start. It becomes ultimately shattering to any woman subjected to that kind of unmentionable abuse. The collateral damage this causes affected family members or children involved, is equally heart-wrenching.

If a gay man chooses to become involved, or to marry a heterosexual woman, that’s his choice. But it’s only fair and right to give any woman full disclosure and the same opportunity to make an Informed Choice for herself.

Gay people deserve all the same rights as any human being. But they don’t have the right to assume the rights of anyone they get involved with. The ACT of discriminately doing so, negates their partner’s FREE WILL and subjects them to being treated as less than human…

No one should be made to serve as a Sacrificial Shield. If you’re a gay man and you’re subjecting a woman to your covert lifestyle, you’re forcing her into the same kind of soul-wrenching, confounding, isolating closet you desperately seek to escape.

How is that not similar to making someone an indentured slave or kidnapping them and forcing them into a life of sex trafficking? Either way, it’s a Loveless, Calculated, Hostile Takeover of someone else’s life…

Unless you’ve been through this, or you actively engage in perpetrating this scam, you have no idea how devastating the reality is. I know some men cheat with other men, just to purposely skirt the laws of adultery they may be subject to, or that meet with their applied definition of infidelity. If that’s how you justify your actions, you’re the worst kind of narcissist and a truly, despicable human being…

-Jennifer Rose

Bridges on Fire: The Arsonists’ Unintentional Gifts

To walk across a bridge that takes us safely from one place to another we need it to be strong. Steady. Reliable. Supportive. True. Real.

How very lucky we are when an unforeseen, rare opportunity arises in life that challenges the character of those around us. The choice between principled right and wrong are then made. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, as painful as it can be when they fail that test miserably, it takes us on a journey into the realization of who and what matters most.

I once had a friend whose wife often boasted that her husband never burned any bridges. And why would he? That bridge may serve another purpose of benefit to him further down the road, just as she too benefitted him. The truth is he did burn bridges, they both had, they just both believed they’d never been caught.

Ironically, that same former friend (the wife) was the first person in my life to label and suggest to me that my ex was a psychological and emotional abuser. At that time of her labeling however, I just didn’t see it. She saw it, she knew it, she was the very first to identify it because she’d seen it before, but when it all reached the visible surface and hit the proverbial fan, she and her husband both made no mistaking of the crystal clear choice of where they stood, and their loyalty was always with him, no matter the truth and circumstances. They had both made that similar choice with others before. It was then I shockingly realized exactly who I’d allowed into my circle and the reality of why they were there in the first place.

Life delivers many lessons to us from many sources. Some life lessons come through professional settings, some tougher, painful ones more personally. Some lessons will come through the “tongue biters and enablers” we all encounter, and others from the toxic, tormented souls they attempt to use for their own personal gain. Sadly, these “supporters” care nothing for the troubled soul they enable. The irony of life. The ones who truly care will all disappear. You see, the troubled soul wants desperately to avoid the mirror, and that of course includes anyone who is holding one, and users will always choose the one with more money, not the one who does the right thing.

Often the few unprincipled who are left remaining have no real attachment to the people they support. There is always something of benefit to these types of people, such as denial of their own remarkably similar issues (the old saying of birds of a feather flock together), or perhaps a potential source of client referrals. Sometimes it’s an association with someone they can use on a more social basis, or perhaps for the benefit of private air travel, or simply just to boast about having a connection with them and for who/what others may believe them to be. That is of course, until one day when “The Shadow” is in complete control (See my article: The Shadow Knows) and there’s nothing left of that tormented person for them to use any longer, or they finally get caught red handed in their lifetime of lies highlighting and demonstrating their absence of character, and being called out on it. The characterless don’t like being caught and called out. That is when the arson begins.

Speaking untruths of other people doesn’t deflect from one’s own character flaws, shortcomings and true self. It always amazes me how many people don’t believe that is true. If you’re lucky, life will provide you with an opportunity for those in your close circle to either step up and rally around you for the sake of truth, character, and integrity or very quickly, undeniably show you their toxic deficit and absence of character. We don’t always get to see one’s true character come out until they are no longer able to hide it. People who wear masks will eventually let them slip. People who play roles will eventually forget their lines.

Beware of the cruel belittlers of others (as I mentioned in my previous article, “Belittle, and You Are Little,”) and pay close attention to what they say. If they say it about others, they’ll say it about you as well. It’s usually a crucial mistake to excuse or overlook their ugly, false rantings.

Tragically some people, (especially those with hidden or covert Narcissistic Personality Disorders and disguised addictions) choose to live life on the surface, creating no real meaningful or loyal connection to anyone. All people are objects to the Narcissist. They remain in an infinite re-cycling state of new euphoria of new relationships/marriages until eventual discontentment, inevitably landing once again feeling empty inside only to begin that cycle of forged connection once again. Remember, every relationship with a Narcissist automatically comes with a expiration date. They’d rather have the familiarity of failure than admit their desperate need for help with their unimaginable, life-long inner pain, personality disorders, addictions, delusions, inferiority complexes, and alcoholism. The more desperately they seek to regain credibility once it’s lost, the further they sink into proving they have none. The generational family secrets of emotional, psychological and physical abuse many have hidden for a lifetime and will go to great lengths to keep hidden from others, but mostly from themselves. Many people live in fear, frightened of any exposure that could leave them facing a mirror they don’t wish to see. Sometimes one’s good nature and honest spirit irritates the “inner demons” of others because truth always sounds like hate to those who hate the truth.

Personality disorders and hidden alcoholism/substance addiction as well as deeper more subconscious secrets can be fiercely protected not only by the one who is suffering, by also by those who benefit from its propagation. Beware of close “friends” who are aware of these conditions but continue to enable and encourage mental illness, abuse, lies, dysfunction, and addictions to grow. When we truly care about someone, we address their choices and behaviors with them, we don’t encourage them to continue those destructive choices and behaviors without counsel and accountability. When they cannot handle that accountability, carefully reevaluate them and take a much closer look.

I recently recalled a past conversation between that same husband and an ex-wife of another mutual friend. The ex-wife had pointed out to him that he didn’t have any friends who were not all much wealthier than he and his wife. At the time I thought she was unbelievably out of line and incredibly cruel. On several other occasions my former friend (the wife) had spontaneously and out of context felt the sudden need to explain why she and her husband didn’t live in a certain neighborhood or belong to a certain club. On those occasions I was confused and miffed by the repeated topic, unable at the time to follow her conversation and thought processes. I thought to myself, no one has asked you for an explanation of why you live where you live. It had never crossed my mind or occurred to me to wonder such a bizarre thing, but it clearly consumed her thoughts. Funny how time, clarity, and exposure changes things. I now see these points quite clearly for what they were. This proverbial moth sees the hidden flames.

Back onto the bridge.

Quite often it is a better, wiser, more self-preserving, self-honoring choice to walk away from burning bridges. I have learned that to simply let it burn requires more inner strength, faith, character, self-respect and courage than is needed to try so hard to put out the flames in order to save the bridge. There’s an immense feeling of complete control, an inner peace and sudden calm that results from realizing it’s sometimes better to just let it burn. It’s especially true if you’re not the one who set it aflame in the first place. Why try so hard to extinguish the flames you didn’t ignite? Why try to put out an intentional fire, an arson you didn’t set? In these moments you realize it’s far better to leave it burning, otherwise you may innocently lose yourself in the process and become their collateral damage.

Within those remaining embers, emerges a life that is quickly shifting, much like the winds that feed the fire forcing you to rise like a phoenix from the eventual ashes of an intentionally set destruction.

The bridge wasn’t as it appeared. It was carefully constructed to appear to be a real bridge, but without the real functionality and stability of one. It wasn’t strong and sturdy, reliable and steady. When you finally look closely you see it was secretly deeply flawed, cracked, shattered, weak, and unable to function and stand on its own. It is completely falling apart, quickly crumbling and rapidly growing weaker with time. It wasn’t real. The fire was inevitable.

Within those burned bridges of the past lies a beautiful rebirth and refueling of all that was unknowingly taken. We simply can’t save some people from themselves and sometimes, quite often we just shouldn’t try.

So go ahead and let it burn. I promise you’ll be extremely glad and eternally grateful that you did. In time you will see the truth of it all. Everything you had inadvertently overlooked or completely missed (until the opportunity arose for a test of character) will become crystal clear when the smoke fades. The missing pieces of the puzzle always appear in time. Always. Every time.

So again, go ahead and let it burn. You’ll quickly see the many wonderful, strong, steady, reliable, supportive, true, and most importantly REAL bridges all around you to replace the weak ones you didn’t know you had. Your new bridges along with many preexisting, reliable and remaining bridges will be better and stronger than ever before. Character and integrity truly are everything. So stay close to the people in your life who feel like sunshine, not the burning flames. ☀️

The friendship which can cease has never been real.” –St. Jerome

Grateful, thankful, blessed.

For T, N, M, K, A, S, D, G, L, W, P and to all my ever sturdy bridges. ❤️ Thank you, to eternity.

Separating the Narcissist’s Delusion from Reality

If you’ve ever dealt with a narcissist, you’ve probably experienced the sharp shock when you noticed the world wasn’t exactly the way the narcissist wanted you to think it is.

A narcissist can be a great storyteller. They captivate you with tales of personal triumphs, heroism, even selflessness. But it’s when you look behind the curtain that you discover they’ve rewritten history. Not only are they living in a fantasy, you believed all their self-mythology.

Narcissists are overly occupied with themselves. They exaggerate their achievements and use clever tactics to make themselves feel superior. Ever entitled, they tend to manipulate and exploit others, then rationalize their actions to shirk responsibility or blame. If a narcissist isn’t currently being praised, they are planning or waiting for the next moment when they will be praised.

You may imagine a person like that wouldn’t have anything good to say about themselves. What could they possibly regale you with if they spend the vast majority of their time treating other people like chess pieces? That’s where storytelling comes in. They tell you about how they helped a coworker in need, leaving out the part where they made that coworker pay for it time and again.

The narcissist has to be adept at recognizing right and wrong. If they played the bad role in a situation, they have to tweak it to make it seem as though they were in the right. When someone hangs up on them because they criticized that person’s parentingability, the narcissist tells that story differently to others. “I offered her some advice and she went off on me. That’s the thanks I get for always helping her out? She’s too sensitive.”

In this rewritten version of history, the narcissist is the one waiting for an apology — not the other way around. This is why in the case of extreme narcissism, the narcissist may be very isolated.

We have to imagine the other perspective, if we want to grasp reality. Here are a few examples:

  • The narcissist who adores their children.
    The other side of this is that their offspring never received any praise. What you believe to be parental pride is actually just bragging. They’ve got the best kids. Meanwhile their children have no idea that their parent tells anyone anything about their achievements. In fact, the narcissist may show disinterest or downright disrespect for their children.
  • It’s important to note here whether the narcissist’s adult children are in his or her life. If they’re nowhere to be seen, something is fishy with the narrative you’ve been told.

  • The narcissist who has been burned by others.
    They may tell you tales of rejection and heartache, but their ex may be someone who was pushed to the brink. For instance, a narcissist who cheated on his wife for a decade divorces her. He remains friendly with her, accepting her persisting praise and devotion while she hopes they will reconcile, until she begins dating again, at which point the narcissist feels abandoned. He wanted the ex to remain hung up on him and certainly didn’t want her to find someone new first.
  • Obviously, when you look at the whole story, it’s the ex who has every right to hard feelings. So the narcissist does some editing: “I wanted her back. Anyone could see that. In the end she actually left me!”

  • The benefactor narcissist.
    This one gives a lot of money and time to others, whether that means to charity or personal acquaintances. But they’ve never given anything without the whole world knowing about it. They aren’t altruistic, so they can’t accept making a sacrifice without praise. If they gave to charity, everyone in their social circle would know exactly how much and when.
  • If they gave money to a friend or family member, the part of the story you’ll never hear is how that person become beholden to them. They may have taken on the role of personal assistant, doing every little task the narcissist asked of them. The narcissist may make the other person agree with everything they say, bolstering the narcissist’s confidence and belittling the recipient. If the recipient fails to praise the narcissist, they will be cut off.

Become your own detective. When a narcissistic person tells you about his or her life, make sure you can connect the dots. Is there corroborating evidence that confirms what he or she told you? Look around their environment. Truly great people have something to show for it. Is this the life of an admirable person or have you entered an echo chamber of narcissistic delusion?

Sarah Newman MA, MFA

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