Prepping for the Narcissist in Your Life and the Damage They Will Cause

Prepping for the Narcissist in Your Life and the Damage They Will Cause

What is a Narcissist? Reading Prepping for the Narcissist in Your Life and the Damage They Will Cause 10 minutes Next Narcissus V. Bear - Things a Bear Never Did to Me but Narcissus Did

Nothing can prepare you for a narcissist. It doesn’t matter how much you read, how many people you know who have been impacted by narcissistic abuse, or how much training you have on NPD. Nothing can prepare you for the extreme harm a narcissist will cause in your life. They will separate you from your friends and family, turn people against you, use their charm to create their own narrative where they are the victim and you are the abuser, bedazzle their flying monkeys into harming you, and leave you broke – financially, spiritually, socially, emotionally, and physically.

Moreover, the narcissist will bring everyone in your social circle and community into their drama, and often, because they are the more charismatic and charming of the two of you, they will convince these people – some of whom you have known for years and were always on good terms with – to turn against you. You will be left feeling like you were just plopped down in an alternative universe where nothing makes sense.

I remember after my narcissist assaulted me for the second time, my neighbor – a PhD therapist who had dealt with her own abusive ex – told me with the best intentions possible “Don’t be surprised if people start to side with him and not you.” She is one of the kindest people I know, and I knew that she meant it with all sincerity and support, but as the police were hauling my narcissist off to jail and I was being triaged in my home by first responders, I remember thinking “there is no way he is going to shift this story and blame me….who would believe it?” Oh, how naïve and wrong I was, and how spot on my dear neighbor was, who has remained one of my trusted allies. I am still in awe at how he managed to twist the fabric of reality in such a way that seemingly normal and decent people believed that I was the culprit.

Over the next year, my narcissist systemically and with precision continued to twist reality and, bit by bit, encounter by encounter, I learned how he had been setting me up for years prior, creating faux stories in the ears of anyone who would listen, all the while I was trying to successfully blend our families, care for my two kids and his two kids (one of whom suffered from severe mental disorders), create a home, strengthen our community, family, and friend group, and establish an environment where we both could flourish in our careers. I was in love with him and dedicated to making our family thrive in the community; he was dedicated to planting seeds against me in our community. Essentially, he was creating and nourishing his flying monkeys, little by little and story by story.

While nothing can fully prepare you for a potential narcissist and flying monkey attack, you can be aware of the signs that someone has narcissistic traits and, then, avoid these types of people like a narcissist avoids accountability. 

1. Lack of Empathy: Narcissists often lack empathy, which involves the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, to connect emotionally with their experiences, and to respond with care and concern. Narcissists may possess a superficial charm and the ability to mimic empathy when it serves their interests, such as to manipulate or charm others, but it is a hollow type of empathy without any real substance. The faux empathy is typically insincere and used as a tool to achieve their own ends rather than a genuine expression of compassion. My narcissist put on an Academy Award-worthy performance at displaying faux empathy in front of others. I can still see him now with that fake forlorn look on his face, wincing and grimacing, as if he was feeling the pain the person he was talking to was experiencing. For instance, I saw him listen to two women at our church share stories of their cats who died in a fire. He looked and acted so concerned for their loss. It was shocking because I knew how he really felt about cats and animals in general (as well as animal people). He hated them...I mean he really hated animals (another red flag) and had a general disregard for people who were animal lovers.  As far as I could tell, he felt zero sympathy when an animal died or was treated poorly, and he felt contempt for people who did. Rather than just admitting that he didn't like animals or want one, he exaggerated his pet allergies to justify his no-animal policy. 

2. Manipulative: They often use manipulation tactics to control and exploit others for their own gain, satisfaction, or to maintain their inflated sense of self-importance. After he was arrested for the second time, I watched my narcissist manipulate a couple at our church. He would send them messages such as "I think when this is all over, I am going to get a dog and I want my good friends Fanny and Ron to help me," in appeal to their love of animals. When we were going through our three to four months of divorce counseling, my narcissist would laugh about how he would send this couple little messages like this to tug at their heartstrings and love for animals and the church, never once meaning a word he said. He manipulated just about everyone he encountered, and his opinions on hot-button topics would change radically depending on who he was talking to. For example, when trans athletes discussions first transpired, his thoughts on whether trans women should participate in women's athletics changed as quickly as a narcissist finds a rebound partner depending on who he was talking to. With his best friends, Amara and Gasper, and with his first wife Prissy and her trans spouse, he was of course very pro-trans rights. With others, he thought it was ridiculous that a 'man with a wig could participate in women's sports.' Grant it, many of us who are not narcissists might remain quiet or choose not to engage or offer an opinion on controversial topics to keep the peace, but not my narcissist. He was not choosing to keep the peace by changing his answer depending on the audience -- he had a ton to say and wanted his opinion to bode well with his audience so that they would admire him. 

3. Lack of Accountability: Accountability is often lacking in individuals with narcissistic traits or narcissistic personality disorder. They tend to avoid taking responsibility for their actions and instead deflect blame onto others or external circumstances. My narcissist would go to tremendous lengths and do Olympic-winning mental gymnastics to avoid accountability. He confessed to me that he cheated repeatedly on his first wife, but it was always due to something she did (i.e. she made me do it). He told me that she abandoned him and left for Africa, so he had a justified affair for the entire summer that she was gone. I later found out that she had not abandoned him at all. She was finishing up her graduate work and had to do a summer abroad program in Africa. He took her departure as an opportunity to sleep around for an entire summer, even going to his new fling's family home. He never took accountability for any of the harm he caused me either. Even when he slammed my head into the wall, resulting in a concussion and broken collarbone, he told me I broke my own collarbone because I put my arm out to brace myself. 

4. Entitlement: Narcissists often exhibit a profound sense of entitlement, believing they deserve special treatment, admiration, and attention without earning it. He really believed that he did not have to pay anything to Prissy after their 20-year marriage where she sacrificed her career and dreams to follow him from NYC to a rural part of PA where he obtained a professorship. He had no qualms about getting our small church, which was barely scraping by to make ends meet, to pay for Prissy's health insurance when they were divorcing so that he would not be stuck with the bill. When he was arrested for the second time and had to vacate our home, Fanny and Ron offered him a free place to stay. All he had to do was pay the utilities. To their faces, he acted grateful and kind. Behind their backs, he talked about how HE did THEM a favor by paying the utilities over the winter months. He felt entitled to live in that house for months, without paying rent despite the fact that he was a tenured professor whose income was over double our area average, and then flipped the script to make himself out to be the do-gooder and Fanny and Ron the exploiters. Another friend was our realtor when we sold our houses. My narcissist did not value this person since they were not a part of his Professor Elite Community or a big wig at the church. Our realtor friend, in an effort to help my narcissist sell his house, went well above and beyond, even helping him free of charge to update his kitchen. My narcissist never thanked our realtor friend and, instead, acted like the realtor took advantage of HIM without any justification. Needless to say, none of the 'friends' that my narcissist held so dear and tried to impress at every turn came over to help him prepare his house for the market. But our realtor friend spent many days doing just that, and my narcissist truly believed he was entitled to all the free labor. 

5. Grandiosity: Grandiosity in narcissists can manifest in any number of ways including an exaggerated sense of self-importance, fantasies about success and power, a need for admiration and validation, a sense of entitlement, willingness to exploit others, total disregard for someone else's feelings, and intolerance of criticism. Outside of the home, my narcissist most readily displayed his grandiosity when he was at our church. He felt that because he was the President, the entire church owed him for his time and efforts. He believed that it was perfectly fair that, in exchange for donating a few thousand dollars (which he could write off on his taxes), the church should help to fund his pending divorce by hiring his soon-to-be-first-ex-wife at a well-above-market rate and providing her with healthcare coverage for quarter-time work. (As a note, I am a firm believer that people should receive a living wage, and it was the nepotism that was the problem coupled with creating a position that the church could not afford to support). 



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