I was given a prompt to write about and wrote this. I have been a victim of narcissist abuse, but I have never been one of domestic abuse. But I suppose growing up in a cult is a form of it! Please forward this to anyone who you feel should read it.
This post is for those who 1) suspect that someone in their close circle is a narcissist, and 2) is experiencing themselves being manipulated by this person. When I use the word ‘narcissist’, what I mean is a person who suffers from a clinical narcissism. To know a true narcissist, they will have a combination of these characteristics: 1) they pretend to be overly concerned or worried about you; 2) they are able to show real emotion when they want a reaction from you, but then have zero empathy when it really matters; 3) they are obsessed about victory & competition in their own lives; 4) they do hundreds of “good things” like being vegan, volunteering, protesting, advocating, etc. so most people respect them; 5) they need to feel loved and respected by everyone; 6) they talk about themselves and their opinions nonstop, and believe that their opinion is TRUTH; 7) they have really high genius and are generally successful in the world; 8) they cannot bear to be wrong; 9) cannot ever apologize or say “I am sorry for X thing I did, that was messed up”; 10) are not introspective (they don’t look at themselves in a way to self-correct); and 11) they believe that people are either bad or good–it’s black or white and no in-between.
A true narcissist also uses gaslighting as a tool to control their victim. What is gaslighting? It is when someone makes you believe that what you experienced is not true. You never saw that. You are crazy for thinking or believing that you did. That never happened (even though you were there and saw it!!). Or, they will make you believe that the reason why you feel what you feel is because *something is wrong with YOU*. This is VERY important to remember! This is true gaslighting and it is a legal form of abuse. They will tell you that what they did/said is “normal” and your emotional response to it is only because you are traumatized and not gauging things correctly (i.e., something is wrong with you).
If you really do suffer from trauma, then the narcissist will use this as a weapon to keep you from trusting yourself and your own gut feeling.
If you identify any of these things in someone you know, then please keep reading! You will need to know how to free yourself, which is very tricky and sometimes even dangerous.
How trapped a person is falls on a spectrum. Some people will be physically beat by their narcissist abuser if they ‘rebel’ while others will be made to feel guilty for not doing what the narcissist needs. If you are at the extreme level (in physical danger) then you will need outside intervention. You must seek help SECRETLY. You will need to make valid excuses to go to the grocery store, library, etc. and find a way to access a computer that is not the home computer. A library or community center will be perfect for this. You will need to create a fake email, fake social profile (maybe Facebook for now) and make sure it does not have code words the narcissist will recognize. If you do this, you will have to make sure that you can hold up the “lie” without the narcissist catching on that you are doing something behind their back. Here is an affirmation to repeat to yourself over and over again “I am perfectly innocent”. Tell yourself this in your mind and pray for help so that it really sinks in. If you do not do this, the narcissist abuser will know (they are very psychic!) that you are lying and then your whole plan will be ruined.
What you are doing here is training yourself to use the same Jedi mind tricks that the narcissist uses naturally. Envision a protective sphere around your mind that hides you from the abuser. You will have to do this many times a day (in silence) for weeks or even months until it becomes second nature. (I developed this small tool so others won’t have to go through a cult experience in order to learn to retrain their minds to project what they want to project in order to protect themselves.)
Ok, once you have a fake email and profile and feel safe in that you will not be found out, you will need to find someone who can help you. Find a person who agrees to secretly come check on you and help you find a way to break free from the situation. Wait, are you ready to break free? Being free is very scary! You will need a lot of emotional, mental, spiritual and financial support until you can stand on your own feet. And you will need life-long support and mentoring to continue to heal all the trauma from 1) being under a narcissist abuser’s control and 2) the childhood trauma that caused you to fall into that situation in the first place. By the way, all your trauma and suffering can be healed and there will come a point where you no longer feel pain or guilt. You will be happy, relieved, freed and empowered. You will also be able to use your experience to help many others — just like I am doing now!
Now for those with the mild narcissists in their lives. If you are in a strong enough position and the narcissist is an acquaintance/friend, just cut them off. Do not argue or try to reason with them — ever! If you feel a bit shaky, or that the narcissist is someone you love dearly (a parent, sibling, spouse, etc.) then you will need to get smart about the excuses you create in order to have your own mental and emotional space. Slowly start to become busy and not attend to all their needs. Or, get a headache! Anything that will allow you to have your own time and space to yourself. If they ask you what is wrong, tell them nothing at all or that you are ill. Maybe you are worried about X project and need to dedicate extra time to it. Or whatever the excuse is. What you can NEVER do is talk to the narcissist frankly in a heart-to-heart about your need for acknowledgement, recognition, empathy or respect. They have a clinical disability and are not mentally equipped to give this to you, so please do not ask and do not expect it – even if you know they love you. Furthermore, you can’t convince them that they need to start respecting you, for example, because they will not admit that they don’t respect you. And they will start gaslighting you in your experience, making you doubt yourself. They are very slick at this! You are just going to need to be sneaky in your way of slowly pulling all your energy back to yourself. Then you should find a recovery group or some other person who understands your situation who can help you navigate your own mental windings to help you see that you deserve to feel what you feel, that you deserve to be honored, etc. and that you are not crazy.
Remember that narcissists prey on people with good hearts and make them feel guilty for not taking care of them (the narcissist) first. You will have to begin a transformation process that eliminates your patterns of feeling guilty. You will have to start appreciating yourself and doing SELFISH things! Selfish and fun things. As hard as it may be, this will be a new requirement in your life. But do not ever tell the narcissist what you are up to. Ever. Ever. Ever.