Sometimes, those who don’t understand what it’s like to encounter narcissism close up think talking about it is judgmental and unnecessary.
They try to say things like, “People are all just trying their best from whatever capacity they have or level of consciousness they’re working with.”
I understand this, and it is quite true.
There are also humans out there who are trying their goddamn best to destroy other people’s lives, to cause everlasting and ingrained pain in the hearts of others, and to tear down the strong and brilliant hearts that shine brightly and highlight a narcissist’s perceived imperfections.
There are also people who are doing their best to manipulate others for their own egotistical, materialistic, and financial gain.
Hurt people hurt people. Angry, self-centered, twisted people also hurt people.
This is why it is absolutely imperative that those who have been through the storm keep marching, so that they can let those who are still in it know that the light at the end of the tunnel is nearby—if they can just keep moving through. And also to let them know that they are not alone and to never, ever give up—because, believe me, I, and thousands or possibly even millions of others, have wanted to. Some, tragically, do.
Please, if you are one of those people who haven’t experienced what it’s like to look into the treacherous eyes of narcissism day after agonizing day, do not try to tell those who have what it’s like or what they should be feeling, thinking, saying, or doing.
Good, genuine people, strong and incredibly beautiful-on-the-inside people who are compassionate, caring, loving, and trusting of others are currently in the midst of relationships of all kinds with people who are narcissistic.
Those who have no idea what it’s like to be lied to, manipulated, deceived, and emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically abused, often try to tell those who are either entangled in these dynamics or those who have escaped it, “If it’s that bad why don’t/didn’t you just leave?”
If it was so simple to “just leave,” there would be no abuse of this kind happening anywhere in the world.
Stockholm Syndrome explains this well, though there is an infinite amount of reasons that people remain in these dynamics. Each situation is unique, but what I can say with great certainty is that no one who is involved with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder consciously chooses to experience persistent, malignant, overt, or covert abuse.
No one would willingly choose these relationships if they knew the suffering that lies ahead.
Some people have been subjected to the onslaught of narcissism since childhood, therefore, narcissistic behavior feels familiar and is not easily recognized. Sometimes the torment is so insidiously drip fed by the narcissist that the harsh reality does not become apparent until the toxicity has seeped in and temporarily poisoned and intravenously overwhelmed the other person’s mind.
Narcissists notoriously hide their narcissism well. They are incredibly skilled at masking their intentions, and they play such convincing characters that even the most highly intuitive, aware, alert, and attentive person can be fooled.
Part of the narcissist’s masterful plan is to convey such a convincing angelic-like image that no one would outright suspect that their inner motivations are in huge contrast to what they choose to outwardly display.
Those who have never been entwined with a narcissist may say that they know without a doubt that someone with this disorder would never manage to lure them in. However, believe me, at one time, I thought this too, and the hundreds of men and women I have spoken to thought this exact same thing too.
No one knows, so those who haven’t been there really cannot credibly tell anyone else what it’s like to be intimately involved with a narcissist, or tell those who are that narcissism is imagined, or that they are willing victims if they choose to enter a relationship or stay.
It takes knowledge, experience, and a whole heap of courage and conviction to figure out a narcissist’s game and tear it to pieces.
It is not weakness that keeps people in these situations—it takes immense strength and willpower just to survive each day.
In my opinion, the only people who get to tell others what it’s like to experience life at the hands of someone with narcissism are those who have lived, breathed, and walked through the fire and felt every painful moment of each turbulent day.
So, when those who have been to this hell try to warn, guide, support, or prevent others from going or staying there, it would be beneficial if those who haven’t ever been there don’t trivialize and underestimate their experiences by trying to tell them they are blowing it out of proportion, or that it’s probably just a bad relationship, or worse still, that everyone is narcissistic to some degree.
There is a great difference between having a few traits and triggers that are similar to those categorized as narcissists and someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
I believe it is harmful for people to pretend to know about this mental disorder and to offer, what they believe, is expert advice without actually having a balanced and rational clue about what’s actually happening.
Those who don’t fully understand can still be an imperative part of other people’s healing journey by compassionately listening without believing they know, or would do, better—or by belittling the whole situation by saying things like, “There’s no such thing as narcissism,” or sarcastically, “Nowadays everyone seems to be a narcissist,” or, “If I was in that situation, I would/wouldn’t do x/y/z.”
Some people even suggest that narcissism talk should be swept under the rug and kept behind closed doors, because talking about it is “negative,” and not everyone wants to accept what is actually going on and would rather believe that the world is all love, light, and unicorns.
When people talk about narcissism to share their experience or to raise awareness, it is not because they hate all narcissists, or that they think they are above or better than those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder; it is because they hate the disorder and how destructive it is to those who become involved with it.
Sweeping the reality of narcissism away serves to protect those who are narcissistic and thus allows them to continue their perpetual cycles of abuse. It also causes the person affected by narcissism to believe that what they are experiencing must all be in their head, which may lead them to feel alone, or as though it is all their fault, which results in feeling isolated and too ashamed to talk openly about it.
Regardless of how much anyone thinks they know, the only ones who actually know what it is like are the people currently walking through narcissism hell and those who have already walked through it. No one else can possibly accurately judge what it’s like.
“I love when people who have walked through hell walk out of the flames with buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.” ~ Stephanie Sparkles
Author: Alex Myles
Image: Ben White/Unsplash
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina