Echo was a mountain nymph who trailed behind the beautiful Narcissus from the moment she laid eyes on him. Narcissus sensed that he was being followed and called out, “who is there?” . Echo replied with the same. When she finally decided to approach him, she reached out to embrace her love and he pushed her away. Echo was heartsick and spent the rest of her life in mourning until nothing but an echo of her remained throughout the forests. The goddess of revenge, Nemesis, saw this and sought to punish Narcissus. While he was hunting one day, he was lured to a pool of water. Upon seeing his reflection, he became so enamoured with what he saw that he fell deeply in love. Not realizing it was himself, he leaned in to save the object of his desire and drowned.
Mind you, this would have transpired in the mythical realm circa 8BC, and not all of us are so lucky to have our own Narcissus drown themselves, but take from this story what you will. Before you lies one woman’s commentary on narcissism along with some real life experiences to support her poor choices. If anyone could be a fair and true authority on the narcissist, it is the person who tried to love one.
So what makes a narcissist? Narcissism is a personality disorder that results in a person having a lack of empathy for others. At it’s core, narcissism is ego-gratification. These individuals receive validation through admiration from others. They posses an incredibly inflated self-image, and believe they deserve praise and acknowledgment without any prefacing situation to earn that response. Special treatment is important to these individuals – they believe they are superior to others and will only seek to present and arrive in groups that are also superior. Is any of this sounding familiar? If it is, you’re probably dating a thirty-three-year-old who sleeps on an air mattress.
The narcissist is not solely concerned with how they appear, but how you do as well. They will be judgmental, controlling, and jealous. For example, my narcissist would not allow me to interact with other men, even when I had known them for several years, and would belittle me when I did. But it was always acceptable for him to become and maintain friendships with these individuals. He once yelled at me across the bar for greeting someone, and having a conversation with them and their date. He refused to speak to me afterwards. It even went so far as him telling me that certain people were speaking poorly about me in a group chat, so I should not even associate with them. Meanwhile, he was in this group chat and obviously allowed this behaviour.
The narcissist will monopolize every conversation – everything is about them and their needs. They have an unwillingness and inability to recognize the needs and feelings of their partners, but theirs must be met, always. Before you consider criticizing them, do not waste your breath. When the narcissist feels attacked, they react in rage and are unable to regulate their emotions. My narcissist once threw a chair across the room in a drunken rage and ran his fist through a wall while I was nursing him through an inebriated episode. Having experienced abusive relationships in the past, I held his hands in mine and told him we were not doing this. That we would not be these people and he needs to come back to me. He kicked me out of his house and when I arrived at my own home, he called me to ask where I went and was upset that I did not want to come back. They are easily slighted, hypersensitive beings who will seek to either take you down, or completely shut you out and off. My love, my person, the man who said he wanted to plan a future with me always left me in the dark. A place I have never been a stranger to, always home in. Every time he violated my boundaries, every time he hurt me, I was still the one holding the loss. He rarely apologized, when he did he obviously did not mean it, and it was only ever followed after not speaking to me for days on end. His inconsistencies made me feel as if I was doing something wrong. And that is how you end up tied to this type of person.
The average narcissist is often charming. They have a certain charisma about them, and their confidence is dripping out of their mouths. They have grand images of their accomplishments, their achievements (in reality, these will be few and far between) and will weave elaborate dreams before your eyes. Their bigness, their bravado will pull you in, and their dreamspeak will have you believing that they can fulfill your needs and wants for a place to call home. You are seeking more life, and they will promise you all of it – they have it to sell. But along the way of falling down their rabbit hole, you’ll see things falling upwards. They will blame any shortcomings on you, they won’t deliver on most (if any) of their promises, and will be emotionally absent. They live in a state of denial, and soon you will too. You will find yourself constantly bargaining with your inner voice, making excuses for their mistreatment of you. You understand them, so you believe it is your responsibility to continuously accept their abuse.
The affected act out in these ways because they harbour deep insecurities. They have hidden feelings of vulnerability and humiliation. In order to avoid their feelings of insecurity, they create this defence mechanism that allows them to feed their ego and wait for you to as well. This disorder can stem from early childhood trauma, abuse, an over-critical household with high expectations, or even the complete opposite – overpraising. While environment is not the sole cause, neurobiology and genes are contributing factors, narcissists typically have experienced unpredictable or negligent care at some point during formative years. In later years, this can manifest itself into drug and alcohol abuse issues, difficulty cultivating and maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships, problems at work, as well as depression and anxiety.
If you are like me, you may have fallen for a narcissist more than once. They play to all my inner child wounds. I grew up in an emotionally distressed home, I’ve suffered multiple forms of abuse at different stages in my life – my ideals have been greatly affected. For a long time I believed that I needed to serve in order to be loved. I needed to do and give and hold everything under the sun for you to make myself worthy of your love and affection; to be seen by you. The object of my desire has always been more than willing to take everything I give without a willingness to return me to a whole state. But this is no longer the case. You are whole, regardless of the pieces you give away – that is why you are able to do so, so often. A difficult lesson I learned, after much trial and error of the heart, is that you cannot love yourself through another person. By pouring yourself into someone else, you are not coming from a place of true love, you are coming from a place of deep wounding and validation-seeking. You are stretching your arms to false gods who will never answer your prayers.
Leaving these people is never easy – you’ve wrapped your arms around what you believe are now your dreams and thrown yourself off the tallest cliff you could find. All you wanted was someone to catch you, but darling, they cannot fly. My love always said exactly what he was supposed to when I was on the edge. He always found a way to pull me back to him, and I was forever his prize. Narcissists only seek to be admired by obedient disciples, they are not looking for partners, regardless of what they say. The truth will always be in their actions – look here for the proof you keep running from. You will never be the exception to their actions, you will never be the deviation from their path of destruction. After I finally had enough of the hurt, the pushing, the pulling, the cold, the rage, my narcissist kept reaching out to me. He always wanted to know he could drag a reaction from my insides. Every time I asked him to respect my boundaries, he never did, so why would he start now? It was months of him reaching out to me, then ignoring me. Him lashing out on me, texting me calling me names and telling me to go fuck myself because he saw me having brunch with an old friend that knows his friends. He was embarrassed and it was my fault, as always. The saga finally ended with him sending me emails and waving at me on Facebook – his last resorts since I blocked his number.
Healing from these types of relationships take time, effort, and patience. Following loving a narcissist, you may have lower self-esteem and feel lost because they gained more power as yours diminished. But fear not, my love, there is nothing you cannot come back from. Journaling, building new routines, and doing things that simply bring you joy are all crucial forms of self care to bring you back to centre. So much of your life will have revolved around them and their emotions so your task following their hurricane will be to serve yourself again. You can feel empty, disappointed, even a failure, but you are none of these things – they believe they are, which is why they needed you to carry their weight. You are strong enough and you will rise again, I promise.
I am by no means an expert, only an experienced lover. I have tried but never failed at making a person home. I moved my soul into many beings before I learned I am safest within my tired bones. The love I kept trying so hard to give away, I’ve placed back into myself. I’ve apologized to myself, I’ve released myself of any guilt, hurt, shame, and the pain of not trusting my intuition. I will never cross myself again. Leaving this person behind was no easy feat, I cried like I have never cried before. I barely ate for weeks, I felt so defeated. I even had panic attacks for some time when I would run into him. My body learned to fear this person, because they only bring me pain. I felt ashamed and embarrassed by this response, but now I thank my body and my inner self for knowing how to protect me best.
I hope these experiences serve as lessons for you. I started this blog last year to share some of my soul more openly, because only by asking for it can we truly receive the love we deserve. I wish for you all the things you deserve and not the things that you want. For much time, I wanted only what was bad for me, what spoke to the little girl who couldn’t feel or touch the world around her. Sometimes she is still there, but each day I wake her with the sun, I stroke her hair, and I kiss her face. I tell her she is loved and is worthy of love. I tell her she shines like the moon, and she is here to guide the way for others to find their light.
Whether you follow or not is on you.
Whatever path you choose, I hope you know you are worthy too, and you are so loved.