“And pity – people who inspire it in you are actually very powerful people. To get someone else to take care of you, to feel sorry for you – that takes a lot of strength, smarts, manipulation. Very powerful people.” ― Deb Caletti
I stared at the face on my computer screen for a long time. I recognized the eyes and the mouth, but not much else. A longtime friend had come across a recent picture of my first love and thought I would be amused by how awful he looked now. I don’t like to look back, it doesn’t serve much purpose unless you’re trying to heal a past hurt and besides, as Wayne Dyer always says, “You’re not going that way.”
But there he was staring back at me. I was 14 when I met him. He was 18. I’m nostalgic by nature and I couldn’t help but think that this man, right here, was the very start of it all. Had he been kind, respectful and loving to me, would my adult relationships have turned out differently, despite my childhood? By the time I had turned 18, this man would sleep with my best friend, my distant cousin, and a slew of other women I didn’t know, while professing to love me. He left and came back 100 times, left me in a whole world of hurt, he embarrassed and humiliated me and grinded what little self-esteem I had into dust.
Fast forward to 2015 and I’m sitting with some friends in a movie theater watching Fifty Shades of Grey. I had meant to read the books, but for some reason I couldn’t garner enough interest and I don’t know what happens next in the trilogy. Usually when Hollywood tries to illustrate someone with a psychological disorder it can be cringe worthy, but they got a few things right about Mr. Grey and I pulled out the little notepad I carry around with me and took some notes, much to my companions chagrin.
On my way home I got nostalgic again and I could see a pattern in my adult relationships that was congruent with the notes I had just taken about the movie.
Rewind to the first month of meeting my long-term Narcissist and everything fit. We’re parked in his car in my mom’s driveway and he’s sobbing, really big tears, telling me how abusive his father was and how much pain he was in. I flashed back to my first love and was dumbfounded – I’d had this conversation before. It was all the same – they were the same – I was the same.
“If you are an approval addict, your behaviour is as easy to control as that of any other junkie. All a manipulator need do is a simple two-step process: Give you what you crave, and then threaten to take it away. Every drug dealer in the world plays this game.” ― Harriet B. Braiker
When I got home I opened my computer and started thinking and typing. I paced and brought myself back to the beginning of all of my most painful relationships. This was the pattern:
They Appear Larger than Life – There is something special and unique about them, something that stands out. Even if they don’t have much going for them, you’re convinced it’s only temporary. They dazzle you so much that you’re left thinking, why would a guy or girl like this want me? (They all seem to have at least one special feature that they display prominently) “the bait,” if it’s intelligence, they astound you with their superior intellect. If it’s beauty you’re overwhelmed that they’d pick lil’ ole you when they can have anyone they want. What you don’t realize is you’re being fed a script and they’ve had this conversation before – just not with you. But you’re damned impressed and can’t believe that someone like them would want someone like you.
They Seem Laser Focused on you – You don’t have to guess what they’re doing or thinking – if you’re a potential supply supplier they are calling you, texting you and making plans to see you constantly at the beginning. It seems as though they cannot get enough of you. They want to know everything about you. Even though you may have some self-esteem issues, you really like the you that they see. They like you so much they’ve convinced you to start liking you and it all feels like a dream. You’ve got butterflies, you’re fantasizing about your future together and you keep thinking about how lucky you are. You’re saying to yourself, ‘finally…finally after so many frogs….I’ve finally found the one. ‘
They Love Bomb You – “I’ve never felt this way about anyone. I’ve never felt this connection to anyone before. I can’t believe what you’re doing to me, what you make me feel. I only want you. You’re the one.” I’ve heard every one of these phrases from Narcissists. This is what I call deepening the connection. The thing a Narcissist fears most is abandonment, their fragile egos can’t handle the thought of it, so this pretense is necessary to hook you and cement the relationship. They will say whatever is necessary to have you thoroughly convinced that you will never meet anyone as wonderful as they are and that no one could ever make you feel this way.
They Seek Sympathy /Show Vulnerability – This is another cementing technique they use and if you’re a fixer, with a huge heart and a lot of empathy to give, then this one’s for you. They’ve all got a story for why they’re all fifty shades of f’ed up. “My dad used to tell me how worthless I was. He’d get drunk and he’d beat us senseless. He died of alcohol poisoning when I was 12…..” Sharing something painful and traumatic encourages others to open up and share their stories. This further deepens the connection, it builds trust and it inspires, in the fixer, a need to care for, tend and heal the wounded soul they’ve become enamored with. A fixer takes on the added responsibility of helping to heal this hurt. It is also an excellent kind of future alibi for someone with bad intentions.
They Start to Give You Subtle Warnings – “You’re too good for me. You can do better than me. I’m not good enough for you. You deserve better.” All of these may sound sweet, even a little humble, but this is as close as a Narcissist will ever get to telling you the truth. You’ll brush it off as a cute little endearment, but the reality is that these statements are warnings. They know who they are and what they’re up to and they know they’re keeping secrets from you. Don’t ignore this.
“Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.” ― Criss Jami
They Blame You/Deflect Responsibility – Suddenly you’re catching them in a ton of lies. They’re acting strange and you can’t count on them for anything. They’re making you act nuts with their behavior and then they point back at you and say, “See that’s why I’m doing X,Y, Z, because you’re crazy. If you were different then I wouldn’t be acting this way.” A sane person would look at what’s going on and say, “Hell no, adios amigo,” but you’re already addicted at this point. You’re a fixer, so you’re used to accepting blame that doesn’t belong to you. Let the crazy making begin.
They Pull Away – They’ve got you. You’re in love with them, but the big house of lies is about to come crumbling down around them. It’s been exhausting for them to keep all the smoke and mirrors going. You’re getting too close to the truth and they tell themselves it’s time to emotionally check out, because what they’ve feared all along is bound to happen. You’re going to leave, so they’re going to beat you to the finish line. Some will physically stick around and continue to live in the same house hold and continue the crazy making, some will have other sources of supply lined up and leave without a thought to what they’re putting you through, some will continue to come and go from your life, but the bottom line is, they’ve been discovered and you both know it will never be the same again. Narcissists are addicted to those early feelings of love. That’s the supply that has the most nutrients for them. After everything they’ve said and done to you, your supply has somehow diminished and it’s not quite so filling anymore.
Almost daily people ask me, “Why do I still want him? Why can’t I stay away?” This is why. You were manipulated into believing in a fantasy that was never going to come true and you’re confused and still hoping that you’ll get everything that was promised to you. Because you’re kind and caring, the kind of people that are capable of doing this, are not even on your radar, so you continue to hang on and hope that what people are telling you and what you’re reading is untrue. Your gut tells you it’s not and deep down you know you’ve been manipulated, but all you crave are those connections and deep feelings you felt in the beginning. This person has become the sole reason for your happiness, the relationship and fixing their hurts has become your main focus in life. Knowing that all of the emotional investment you’ve made was based on a lie, is not something you’re ready to accept yet. Nor is taking the focus off of them and putting it on you. All of this is why you’re still stuck on them.
I don’t know what happens to Anastasia Steele after she leaves Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey, but the one thing I do know is she goes back to him – otherwise there wouldn’t be a trilogy. If the author was cool and knew anything about Narcissists she’d know the real game they play. But it’s Hollywood and just like most other lame romance novels, it will probably end with them overcoming all difficulties and living happily ever after.
That’s not the reality of dealing with Narcissists. There is no happily ever after. If I had written this book it would go something like this: Ana meets Christian – he tries to manipulate her – she sees right through him, dumps his ass and gets her degree. She then builds a company, it goes public and she becomes a billionaire. She removes all toxic people from her life, creates new and meaningful relationships, meets a man that’s worthy of her and in passing notices an article in the New York Times that the company of her former boyfriend has gone belly up. She turns the page with a nonchalant shrug and notices an ad for a great pair of shoes on the next page.
That’s a self-love story I could really sink my teeth into. I’d call it ‘Fifty Shades of Savannah Grey.’
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Hahaha, now THAT’S a MUCH better version of 50 Shades of Grey! We need more stories like THAT!
Just a note on the movie (trilogy). The thing that distinguishes Christian Grey from Narcissists and Sociopaths is that he’s in therapy throughout their relationship, and for several years before. Liking kinky sex to me doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has any tendency towards Narcissism, etc. Some people just like kink.
Ns,and Ss, as we all know, rarely if EVER get therapy. Christian’s character was neglected and abused in childhood and he works out those issues and eventually (at least in the books) seems to conquer his demons and comes to be a loving (dominant) man. But that’s a fictional character.
In reality, I know with my ex N, who did seek some therapy but who never stuck with it, change is really not something that is likely to happen. They are who they are, and as hard as it is to accept that all that crap they fed you to hook you was all an illusion, that IS the reality and the best (and really, the only) thing you can do is accept reality as it is, learn some valuable lessons about yourself, and move on. Trust me when I tell you that the next woman he encounters will get the exact same treatment – the same stories, the same lines, the same everything. Patterns don’t lie, and leopards don’t change their spots. Be thankful you dodged that bullet (I am and take with me a very valuable lesson or two about myself), and realize that you never stood a chance. Hopefully there won’t be a next time, but if there is, you’ll be so much better prepared to recognize the signs and turn around and run.
I recently turned a friend of mine that I work with on to this site (among others) and to some other literature my therapist recommend (lucky me, I was in therapy before I started up with my ex N because of an N mother so my relationship, such that that’s even the appropriate word) was short. She, poor thing, just found out her BF (an N as it turns out) of 3 years has been in a relationship with another woman for the last year. My heart bleeds for her, but I know she’ll get through it. She has found solace in this site, among others.
The one thing I always remember is that I’m happy again, and he never will be. Not really. Not the deep down, contented happy that most of us are capable of experiencing. And while it makes me sad for him, I thank God that that’s his lot in life, and not mine.
I watched this movie with my N. Throughout the movie he kept looking for my reactions. He saw himself a lot in the movie. It was strange. He was so controlling, my attention needed to only be his. He wanted no past, no friends, just me and him. Difference is he waked out over and over and over. I am trying to heal, trying to keep reading these articles that feel like I am ready an autobiography, so strange. To keep me sane. I am suffering from anxiety and over thinking. I am logical, but I miss the high. I pray to stay strong and avoid him to get through this. To finally let go and make a future for myself. I was married, I left my marriage for him. He introduced ecstasy into our sex life. I had never taken drugs. It was all amplified by this. I am broken. I thank you Savannah for these articles that although keep me thinking, I am thinking of a new life. I am now 6 years in and lost everything thinking I could fix him. That he loved me, but if I could just do better this time, he would see my value and not leave again. I was delusional. I was sick too. 🙁
The love bomb. The laser focus. The withdrawal. And so on. I could see him in action when he fixated on this current victim.
Thank you Savannah, for demystifying the narcissists. All I had at the time was my intuition and circumstantial evidence.
fantastic ! exactly my last story i barely recover from now …
Please help me. Divorced from a narcissist after 22 years. Don’t know what I did. I’m 68 years old. Why now?
I think this blog might be saving my future.
I’m sitting waiting for step 5 as outlined by SU in her comment. I’m holding everyone’s hand here to be strong.
I was at a dinner party last week listening to my friends talk about the 50 Shades movie and how they couldn’t wait to see it (if they hadn’t already). I kept my mouth shut because the whole premise of the movie now freaks me out. I never read the books (although my ex N did) and I never will; won’t see the film either. I don’t need or want those visions or ideas in my head!
Reading your blog today was much needed. I fall back on occasion even though I understand the psychology. Please keep posting, I need it!
Would love for you to write an article about the beginnings of a healthy relationship with a healthy man:) you are truly wonderful! I’ve learned a lot from your blogs:)
Second comment – I love your descriptors in the post- so accurate. Jumping off some of what you said, an oft repeated technique of narcs is what I call the three step and the five step:
Step one: Bait. Narc does something to wound you often without any clear provocation from you (insults, distancing, subtle sabotage or passive aggression).
Step two: Bite. You react with hurt and anger.
Step three: Blame. The narc turns it on you and says you’re too sensitive, crazy, etc for reacting. This is a type of gaslighting.
If the narc still needs you as supply, add steps four and five:
Step four: Bolt. As the result of step three, you become exasperated and leave or significantly distance yourself from the narc.
Step five: Boomerang. Panicking at the potential loss of supply, the narc attempts to woo you back, saying he loves you, flattering you and trying to make you forget what happened (note that they don’t apologize unless forced 😉
Advice: Don’t take the bait- shut the cycle down at step one. Don’t react, ignore the narc, walk away, shrug like you don’t care, go Medium Chill.
I love this post. So funny because I actually read the first two volumes of Fifty Shades on a looong flight last week and I thought of your blog. I haven’t seen the movie but the books spend a lot of time, maybe too much, exploring the characters of the two protagonists and the relationship between them. It’s harder to do complex character development in film format. If you read the books you can see it’s clear that the male lead, Christian Grey, is definitely not a narcissist nor does he have a personality disorder. He’s too self aware, is portrayed as having compassion and he’s up front and honest about his issues. He has lots of other baggage from a traumatic childhood and what appears to be OCD and this combined with the female protagonist’s more minor issues creates lots of juicy, emotional Hollywood drama. But overall, their relationship is on a hopeful trajectory (that’s all I’ll say) and of course it’s a fantasy so it’s like kittens and rainbows compared to a relationship with a narc. And that’s the problem actually: Movies like this can give fixers and magical thinkers false hope that an abusive narc can change and heal if we are/do/say the perfect x, y, z; cue self loathing when we inevitably fail. When we are emotionally attached to an abuser we naturally and understandably cling to any hope that they’ll change, as delusional as it is. The bottom line is, narcs will always abuse: they have a genetic mental disorder that prevents them from anything more than minuscule, temporary change. I’ve never heard otherwise. Partnering with someone like this is no way to live. See the movie, read the books, if it’s your thing but stay detached and remember that it’s a fantasy.
I have recognise my fiancé as a narcissist and everything fit him. I am ready to move on but many times his parent always lure me back to him for some reason. How can I break freely from them. reply pls.
Have you since met a normal nice man sine becoming true to yourself ? If so how and how can tell the difference in the early stages?
I have Poppy – read my blog called Healthy Love vs Toxic Love – the list – this is Melody Beatti’s compilation from Co-Dependent No More.
This is in response to Cowboy’s comment and also leads me to a question.
He mentions that his ex Narc was incapable of doing basic things, like packing a suitcase, preparing a meal and taking care of a pet. Sounds like she was very physically attractive, but was incompetent in many ways and simply failing at living.
Reading this comment brought back many memories about my own ex Narc and narcissist mother, as well as stories detailing what a friend of mine has experienced with his Narc, and I now see a pattern: They all have absolutely NO ability at all to cope with life and the curve balls it throws us. They are all prone to rage and toddler-level tantrums when things do not go their way or life’s everyday annoyances and inconveniences happen, and they will find a way to take their anger out on you and even try to make these issues — that NO ONE has control over — YOUR fault.
And I’m talking about really minor things that most people solve and move on from within seconds.
For example: One day, my ex and I wanted take-out for lunch. He suggested a restaurant that was a 20-minute drive away, and said he’d go and pick the food up. I gave him my debit card to pay for it (of course). He leaves and shortly after, I get a frantic phone call from him – apparently the credit card machine at the restaurant is not reading the strip on my debit card – the transaction simply can’t be processed. I reacted the way that most people would – I suggest he get cash from an ATM, and I tell him my PIN. While in the crowded restaurant, he calmly says “OK” and hangs up.
But that’s not what he did. He didn’t go to the ATM and return to the restaurant. Instead, he went to his car, drove away and called me on my phone and hurled abuse after abuse at me. It was MY fault that my debit card didn’t work at this establishment. I had embarrassed him in front of a crowd of people. I was incompetent. I inconvenienced him. I did it on purpose.
He wasn’t going to go to the ATM. After being told my debit card didn’t work, he “lost his appetite,” was “over it,” and now I’d have to find something else for lunch.
Any other sensible person would just say, “Oh, that sucks that the card is not working. I’ll go to an ATM.” He also did not come up with this solution on his own – notice how he called me in a panic first, as though I had to the power to remotely fix that restaurant’s credit card machine?
Same thing with my mother. If you get stuck in traffic while she’s in the car with you, take her to a restaurant and she doesn’t like the service, or mistakenly don’t give her the best directions to a new location, you will NOT hear the end of it, because traffic conditions and a waiter being in a bad mood is all your fault.
So my question: Is this a trait and warning sign to add to the list? If someone has no ability to cope with life’s hiccups, and they react to problems with a childish, entitled attitude, might they be a Narc?
Shit will happen, all the time. Things break. We lose things. Our GPS and cellphones stop working. We are going to encounter mean and rude people who will try to criticize and upset us. People will be forgetful. Not everything we do will be a success the first time around. Then add in traffic, weather, I could go on about the variables that affect our daily lives. But I’ve found that the most confident people handle life’s hurdles with class, grace and humor – traits that many Narcs just don’t possess.
Anyone else experience this with their Narc?
NarcRepellent I would say that this behavior is typical of the Parasitic Narc – the need to live off of their host. I had to do everything for my long-term Narc even get him a job – his mom was a doctor so she was constantly bailing him out of every financial issue, so he was never accountable for anything and she loved doing it because he was her, ‘beautiful baby boy,’ I swear to God he’s 23 and she’s calling him that. Sorry had to stop (vomit in mouth) Some Narcs can take care of themselves financially and do experience some success, but I would definitely say that my long-term Narc, your ex and Hurtin Cowboy’s ex all sound like the parasitic variety.
NarcRepellant – Yes, exactly, nothing is ever their responsibility, nothing is ever their fault. Their childishness and sense of entitlement is simply amazing — to a normal person, the the things they expect from the world are astounding. One example of dozens and dozens I could choose from: my xN is on a foreign trip literally around the world from me. She has forgotten her phone charger (typical of her lack of organization). I am expected to drop what I am doing and help her solve the problem. So of course I do. I am navigating foreign language web sites (in Arabic!), trying to get a fix on her exact location via Google maps, figuring out where the nearest electronics store is based on where she is standing, calculating the currency exchange, etc. etc. Would I ever, in my most extreme and wildest dreams, ever expect that from another person? NO! I learned many years ago how to take care of myself, how to solve problems. The tragedy for my xN is, even if I had not solved the problem (which I did, of course) from far away, she would have turned on the charm and gotten some stranger there to do it instead. Which she knows, why she never has to really think throngs through. But the cost to her is enormous. By always relying on “the kindness of strangers” she is often at risk without knowing it and she is always a child in a grownup world. She does not know that self-sufficiency is satisfying and sometimes completely necessary for grownup life. Of course I had a lot to learn too. Like how to say “No, I am not going to do that. Solve it yourself.” But that’s my stuff.
Oh this had so many things I could relate to. Although, I know better and won’t. There is a part of me that wanted to forward this to him. I now know he would only pick out the parts that said I am crazy
I wish I could spread the word about him.But I suppose then that means I want revenge.
Savannah I saw the movie yesterday and today I sent your brilliant article to a N as a review of the film .
I hope he learn a lesson.. but who knows???He is a cerebral -open narcissist
God Bless you!!
Savannah, I love your version of 50 Shades – so much more satisfying. I’m printing out this article since it is so perfect in it’s understanding of these types of relationships. Thanks for doing what you do.
Another amazing article. Every point is “spot on”.
Hi Savannah, One of the best things I ever did for myself was sign up on Esteemology. I have learned a great deal from your writings and peoples’ responses. I believe what helped to not send me into a horrible state of depression was – I NEEDED to understand what happened to my 35 year marriage. I was a fixer, a good listener, loved him deeply and was loyal. Even today, reading what others had to say, I “saw” words and patterns that I had been experiencing both in him and myself. My ex is quite a charmer – one of the best – so endearing and helpful and yes, you feel like you are the only one for him. He did use the tool of making me out to be a b**ch. (I found letters written to other women expressing just that) This is how he lured them all into his den – while still married to me, I might add. At one time he was juggling 3 women (one of them being me) at the same time. I stayed far too long. Yes, longing for the love and commitment that was there in the beginning – putting up with 6 affairs – shameful, I know. I have been on my own now for 1 year. My health has improved so much. Once in a while I still get the pangs of missing him, and all I have to do is read one of Savannah’s topics to get my head screwed back on the right way.
For any of you readers who are just beginning to “see” that things were not as they seemed and you hay have had a narc in your relationship, I can share what I did to help myself. I signed up for specialized therapy on “the red flags of abusive men”, I cut all ties with my husband right away, and signed up on Esteemology. Those 3 things helped me so much. It is a very sad, hurtful and confusing time when you realize your marriage was a sham and you were the only one giving to that relationship. I say to all going through this – don’t give up. There is help out there in all kinds of formats that can help you. As the reader above me said – they are in a place now where they can smile. I haven’t quite reached that place yet, but I most certainly feel I have come a very long way in the healing process.
Good luck to you all.
I so needed this today!!!! Spot on. My ex after over 20 years of marriage and me kicking him out found supply within a week. I am truly dumb founded by how accurate all of your articles are. He told me once several years ago before the major abuse started that he stayed with me all those years because he couldn’t figure me out. I just said oh really I thought it was because you loved me, oh well that too. Geeze looking back there were so many things I was conditioned to accept. No more, I am working on me and caring for me the way I cared for others and I will not ignore little signs again!!! Thank you so much for all you write and your inspiration to us all!!!
“There is something special and unique about them, something that stands out. Even if they don’t have much going for them . . . .” Bingo: my xN was a beauty, and I was dazzled. Yet even so, she was flailing in her career, depressed and lonely, without any close friends in her daily life. Not to mention all the “friends” (all male) who kept in touch with her, but who did not seem to provide any real emotional support. I even noticed how child-like she was in many ways, how basic things like packing a suitcase or taking care of a pet or preparing a meal seemed beyond her abilities. Yet I felt lucky, I thought it was all too good to be true at first.
After devaluation began, I remember being so confused. When I looked objectively at my life, how competent I am in so many spheres, my friends, my achievements, I could not understand why I was so obsessed with this person. How could I, with all I am capable of and all I have done, be so wrapped up in someone who is basically not capable of much? I literally walked the streets at night asking myself this. Not until I understood the power of the addictive cycle my xN initiated did I get some clarity.
Which is all to say: I find your alternative fifty shades of Savannah much more convincing than the Hollywood story. These are not basically competent, love-capable people who just need to find the right mate to fix them and straighten them out. They are a mess, inside and out. They have one thing going for them which they milk endlessly. But their lives are usually disorganized and deeply unsuccessful. True enough, lots of kinky sex is often part of the package. But this is just a form of medication (with my xN anyway; binge drinking was another of her numbing-out tricks). And as all grownups know, this is not enough to keep a real relationship going. It’s the side-dish, the dessert, the cotton candy. Without real emotional sustenance we starve. Leaving us feeling more like fifty shades of black.
This article is exactly what I am going through. It’s a very fresh wound with me and it’s difficult for me to see myself healed any time soon. I keep telling myself that it was all a lie. But, my heart (and soul) are broken and I find myself yearning for a call, an apology, a reason that this happened. I just can’t get my head around it…
Thanks Savannah your piece is so true but what I wonder is why are there so many of these shits out there and what causes them to develop in this manner without any ability to connect? Surely their mothers must have a part to play and we are all mothers and what I’ve noticed is the distinct absence of mothers to remind their kids when correcting them of how it feels for the other person/kid.
It’s such a shame and those words don’t express it, but there are beautiful women out there – inside and out – who are struggling to find equals in the other sex and it really saddens me that it is virtually impossible to find a ‘good’ man these days.
Bubble I did write about this – you can see it here – https://esteemology.com/the-making-of-a-monster-causes-of-npd/
Thank you, this is spot on! Although I left my husband and broke free before he could dump me. He went crazy when I left, but I couldn’t take the craziness anymore. I never knew much about narcs but, I i read more and more I see how I was sucked in to his lies. We are going through a divorce and he already has his next victim and is engaged to her even through we are not divorced and this is a man who went to seminary school and tells people he is an evangelist. Funny thing is he judges everyone, twists scripture to fit his needs, manipulates everyone and everything to fit his needs. I’m curious to know more about when the abusee leaves the narc what this does to him. My husband was going to commit suicuide, but a true narc loves themself to much to think about really doing it.
I have read so much material about narcissism since I have broken free. This is, by far, the most accurate description of the horror story that I lived. It is 100% spot on!
This is absolutely spot on! Love the accuracy of this description.
I’m going back and forth between ‘That’s totally my husband!’ and ‘Oh no. This is going to be a nightmare of a divorce.’
Thank you for giving me the reassurance I need – that it’s NOT me. I’m NOT alone and I’m NOT crazy.
Thanks, Savannah – you made me smile then laugh out loud! (Love and courage to those reading this who are not yet at the smiling stage – I promise you, it comes back)
I have just returned from visiting France, which I love – but as it was my predatory narcissist (who is not French – no inadvertent identification is here) who first introduced me to that country, and although I was in a different region, I found a few sad associations cropping up – with resonances of the hopeless hoping and the fantasy stage to which you refer.
To counter this, I dipped into my little notebook, in which I keep jottings and reminders that helped me through in the earlier stages – a sort of self created aversion therapy. I can’t offer direct quotes, as I haven’t noted the sources, just the ideas in my own words. One that makes me smile ruefully is a reference to the ‘laser focused’ approach you describe – I remember what I’ve since seen referred to as ‘the sociopathic stare’ he used in bed – I recall thinking that it was odd, as he couldn’t seem to do much else with me – and the subtle warning which I did not pick up on at first, which was an apparently lovingly expressed “I think I might be afraid of you” – right from the start, he was challenged by an apparently authentic woman (who observed yet ignored the red flags, of course, but hey, we all learn and authenticity grows from lessons) One writer said something like ‘it’s a clue when they gaze at you like you’re lunch’ – this now makes me laugh in heartfelt recognition of what I do not want in my life. There I was in that apparently new and delightful situation thinking I might be being appreciated – um, nope, I was lunch! (But matey, be afraid of me now – be very afraid, and don’t come back!)
He gave other verbal ‘subtle warnings’ – To me, seemingly remorsefully, about his devalue/discard of the lady before me: “I”m a bastard”. To the same lady, reportedly, (who wishes to remain his ‘friend’) about his devalue/discard of me shortly after my parents’ deaths: “I feel a heel”. And more chillingly, to me, during a pity play about the unfairness of his ex wife’s friends’ summing up of his character, sounding wounded and surprised: “I’ve been called an abuser”. He played the misunderstood charmer to perfection – but the eyes changed colour.
I did heed that last one, still without knowing exactly what I was dealing with. I still thought I was enacting normal communication with a reasonable enough person, one with whom discussion and exchange was possible, but the rot quickly set in as he reacted to my challenge/ request for compromise and, just as you identified in the above, Savannah, he raced to beat me to the finishing line – deceitfully, ruthlessly, financially, practically, and most of all emotionally – he said later “I didn’t know how else to leave you.” It took time for me to assimilate the fact that his brain is wired in a compulsively maladaptive way that precludes treating others with respect and effectively rules him out of fulfilling, functional adult bonding.
You sum it all up perfectly. I’ve come a long way in a short time, but can still react with shock and disbelief that someone could be such a textbook case – so there are brief and potentially unsettling moments of rechecking my moral compass – did I imagine all that? was it me or was it him?
It was both of us, of course – all I can do is work on my end and clarify my goals and boundaries for the future – and writings like yours above, and my magic notebook of quotes and memories, are useful reinforcement – as is the laughter when it comes.
So yes – people like this exist – all reminders are gratefully received!
Amazingly descriptive and insightful!
Your writing is stunningly accurate and liberating too! You have a true gift! Thank you for sharing it!
Thanks for the needed reminder that I did the right thing when I cut off my narc entirely. Oh, the attention can be euphoric and I often crave another fix. But like any narcotic, the crash makes the high not worth it. You’re amazing! I wish I could have read your wisdom years ago!
This is the best description of my husband I have ever read. Thank you.
Awesome writing! Loving your version of the Grey story! Thank you! X
Love your ending of ” Fifty shades of Savannah Grey”. I pray this be a reality of self-love for all who have suffered the evil of narcissim.
Totally brilliant as always.
I have always been stunned at the speed of my ex narc at finding the next victim. I am sure he actually lined them up before he left.
You are a lifeline for never wanted to go back again.
Once again unbelievably accurate. Your articles have helped me heal.