Are you with a Narcissist?
If you find yourself constantly confused, anxious, walking on egg shells and questioning your reality in your relationship, there is a huge likelihood that you are in a relationship with a narcissist. There are some pretty obvious warning signs that are easy to over-look at the beginning because narcissist’s start every relationship mirroring us, our personalities; our energy, confidence, empathy, etc. This is why Shakespeare coined the phrase ‘love is blind’, in fact, so blind we don’t see the truth about a person until they have incurred considerable damage. A scientific study in 2004 investigated this notion and found that ‘feelings of love’ actually suppress activity in the prefrontal cortex in our brain, which is responsible for cognitive control and critical thinking. Once you come down from the clouds of the initial romance, the biggest tell-tale signs you are dating a narcissist are very apparent. The classic overt and extravert narcissist will display signs of an absence of empathy, an air of grandiosity and entitlement, arrogance and superiority, a disrespect for anyone they see as beneath them, outbursts of rage and a complete detachment from the effects of their rage on others. But there are also many subtle insidious signs that are associated with a far more dangerous type of narcissist, the covert narcissist, the introverted, shy and withdrawn type. They tend to be hypersensitive and defensive, often taking everything personally, they feel inferior but hide it, they have a fragile ego and are very insecure, they have a victim mentality and fake empathy for their own personal gain. They are often charming which can be very confusing but it is only for validation of the egoic self. They tend to be passive-aggressive and they are very judgemental and manipulative. They never take accountability for their actions and never apologise, on the rare occasion when they do apologise it is meaningless because they will repeat the same behaviour again and again. Unfortunately over time you may find yourself completely entrenched in a trauma bond with this type of person, wondering how you got there and how to get out and reclaim your identity.
You may feel like you are going insane but have no idea how to break free and usually by the time you do you are only a shadow of your former self. You learn a whole new vocabulary for the first time, words such as love bombing, stonewalling, bread-crumbing, gaslighting, hoovering, smear campaigns, flying monkeys, and so on, are now words you have become very familiar with because you have endured the effects of all of them. If this is where you are at, look for support ASAP because unfortunately it doesn’t get any better, it only get’s worse. A narcissist doesn’t break your heart, they break your spirit, that’s why it takes so long to heal. By the time you have healed you will feel like you have a degree in psychology. This may well be the hardest journey you will ever be on but I promise you, with the right help you will be your old self again, confident, radiant, beautiful.
‘Love-bombing’ is the first red flag, it’s important to be wary of an instant, intense connection and over-the-top gestures of love very soon into the relationship. The narc might say things like, “It was faith that brought us together”, or “you’re my soulmate”, “we are meant to be”, “I’ll move for love”, etc, lots of flattery and future faking. It’s easy to get reeled in if you are the romantic type and looking for your “Prince/Princess Charming”. Sadly you soon realise that this prince or princesses behaviour is inconsistent and their words are only at surface level. Over time the ‘love-bombing’ turns into ‘bread-crumbing’, this usually happens once you are deeply entrenched and they know they don’t have to put in the hard grafting anymore. It may feel like out of nowhere their behaviour changes. They may ghost you for several days and then appear back into your life as if nothing happened. This creates so much confusion, uncertainty and insecurity. It is used as a manipulation tactic to create chaos and disarm you. You might find that you experience amazing highs followed by serious lows. The narc goes from treating you so well but just as you get comfortable and happy they will knock you right back down, either through a rage tantrum, the silent treatment, ghosting or any and many tactics in their arsenal. This gives you the false impression that the highs are amazing when actually the lows are just so low it feels that way.
Behaviours such as the ‘silent treatment’ or ‘stonewalling’ become the norm anytime you try to communicate your feelings or get some clarity on why there’s sudden changes in behaviour. ‘Stonewalling’ is very damaging and is a form of emotional abuse. It is defined as being ignored, secrecy or vagueness, avoidance of uncomfortable conversations, storming off without a word, refusing to talk or answer questions, projecting or engaging in passive-aggressive behaviours, being dismissive of your feelings and needs, using demeaning body language such as eye rolling, huffing and tutting, refusing to acknowledge your genuine distress. This is a very difficult experience to deal with and can cause acute anxiety and stress. It is how the narcissist diminishes your self-worth.
‘Gaslighting’ starts to develop gradually and can be extremely hard to detect, especially when you are probably in a vulnerable state at this stage. The narc will use tactics such as countering, making you question your memory, withholding and pretending not to understand, trivialising your feelings by belittling or disregarding you, calling you too sensitive or accusing you of over-reacting, denying things they’ve said, conversations or even situations that happened, diverting by changing the focus and questioning your credibility. The intention of gaslighting is to make you feel crazy and overtime this is exactly what happens. You may find yourself spiral into a deep depression and become chronically co-dependent. You feel confused and constantly second-guess yourself, you will find it difficult to make simple decisions, you will frequently question if you are too sensitive and constantly apologise when there is no reason to. You might find yourself becoming withdrawn and unsociable, lying to your family and friends while making excuses for the narc and even defending them, you start blaming yourself for their behaviour. You develop feelings of worthlessness, as if you deserve to be treated this way. You may develop an eating disorder, an addiction or phobia, your health deteriorates. You find yourself completely broken, hopeless, joyless, feeling lost. ‘Gaslighting’ overtime is very traumatic and can have a significant impact on both your mental and physical health. It has been scientifically proven now that long term narcissistic abuse can actually damage your brain. It can shrink the hippocampus and cause a swelling of the amygdala; both of these circumstances lead to devastating effects. The hippocampus is responsible for learning and developing memories, while the amygdala is where negative emotions like shame, guilt, fear, and envy come to life.
The narcissist is an extremely selfish person and has no regard for your emotional wellbeing, they will never think about what they are doing to you or show genuine compassion, this is especially true if they are already vetting new supply. If you manage to break free and they haven’t found new supply, they will do everything thing they can to “hoover” you back in. They need you as supply, they need to know they have control over you even though they don’t even want you.
Some of the most confident, independent, intelligent and strong willed people can become prey to the dark entities of a narcissist. They literally suck the life out of you to feed themselves. Empathetic people are their favourite prey because empaths see the good in everyone, are very compassionate and are extremely tolerant. But these traits can be your achilleas heel, be warned! You may find you have escaped only to be sucked back in because your self-esteem is usually on the floor at this stage. The narc has you convinced that you are inferior, this is the best you can do, you need them and life is better with them. Once you are so broken that they no longer have any need or desire for you, they will keep you dangling using breadcrumbs while they look for new supply. This can take time as they need to make sure the new supply will stick around so they put you on the long finger, this has been likened to a cat toying with a mouse before they let them go. There is lots of lies, manipulation, vagueness and confusion. As soon as they are assured that they have their claws buried well into the new supply they will show the true extent of their darkness. Be prepared for an absolutely brutal discard. They will cut you out as if you never existed. Your time, love, loyalty, commitment to the false promises….all for nothing. A smear campaign usually follows the discard, they will blacken your name and make you look crazy when you actually had no idea that all this was going on in the background. You had no idea that while they were hoovering you they were vetting new supply. They set you up to fall, and fall you will, as you are completely in the dark. At this stage your head is in such a spin and you are scrapping yourself off the floor. Now when you are looking for answers, trying to get your head around the absolute madness, they ramp up the drama. They usually deny there’s new supply even though there could be many, they will make you feel crazy and if you try to do any detective work to find some honest answers they may go as far as threaten you, accuse you of harassment and make you feel that somehow you are the unhinged person. They will go to any lengths to ensure the new supply either doesn’t find out about you or if they do they will portray you as the jealous psycho ex. The psycho ex that was their ‘soulmate’ the day before. You find that your life is in absolute turmoil, you may have moved by their request, financially supported them, invested so much of yourself into them. This is your rock bottom.
Dear ones, narcissistic abuse is one of the worst types of abuse that one person can inflict on another. If you find yourself resonating with any of this article get out, stay out and seek specialised professional help immediately. Humans who can treat another person like this are so damaged and self-loathing and their only intent is to turn you into this version of them. This is how they build their persona, take all the essence of you for themselves unapologetically. I know that doesn’t give you much comfort after you have endured the most psychologically damaging experience you may ever experience and you have invested your trust and genuine love into someone who has no regard for you. This type of abuse needs several different therapeutic approaches to heal. The trauma it causes can impact your mental and physical health in many ways. It’s important to take an holistic approach to recovery. Trauma is stored in the body and can manifest physically, somatic therapies can help release the trauma. Working on rebuilding your self-esteem and confidence is very important. We tend to question why and how we drew someone like that into our lives. It’s not uncommon to blame ourselves and question our ability to trust ourselves and our choices. Narcissistic abuse is related to high numbers of victims experiencing PTSD, C-PTSD and even suicidal ideations. If you have been a victim of narcissistic abuse it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you. Unfortunately nobody is immune to the narcissist. They target highly empathetic people, they usually try to find your achilleas heel very early on in the relationship. They can prey on anyone that has had traumas in their lives, show insecurities, vulnerabilities or lack confidence in themselves but they also prey on people who are confident, very well known, well respected and successful as the prestige represents their grandiose scene of self. Narcissists love being the hero but as soon as you question their behaviour or give any indication that you are onto them, watch out. Below are some amazing people and resources to help you on your journey to recovery from narcissistic abuse. I also niche in this area so please don’t hesitate to drop me a message and request a free 30 minute discovery call to see if I can help you be you again. Never blame yourself for getting entangled in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, they are extremely manipulative and skilled at what they do. You are a person that always see’s the good in everyone, don’t let them kill your sparkle. Seek professional help and watch out for the red flags that you now know are serious red flags. If you have a gut feeling, listen, take heed, our bodies are designed to warn us of danger, usually you will have a niggling feeling, if you do trust it. If any of the above sounds familiar and you are in a situation like this right now, reach out, seek help, don’t be alone, find your strength, you know it’s there, take your power back, x