The Illusion of a narcissist.
Some people say that being with a narcissist is all just one big illusion, which, yes, it is, and no, it is not. We lived that actually life, we lived those days, we live those actual moments, to us while we are with them, we lived that experience. Our minds hold those memories that are often connected to our emotions, which is why recovery can be so triggering as we connected our feelings to our memories. When something happens that reminds us of our past, it can hit our emotions hard, which is why sometimes it can work well to give our past a different meaning, to connect with different emotions, and change the ”Why is this happening to me.” to ”What has this taught me.” Our emotions play a significant role in how we feel about our past, present and future. Unless something is happening in the present moment, the rest is our imagination of things that have either already happened or endless possibilities of what could happen, why it can be helpful when we think about a future we want in recovery, one that makes us feel good. Our minds control our emotions. We control our minds.
As confusing and as hurtful the experience of a Narcissistic Relationship is, the reality we lived in any given moment was real, at least to us at that moment. What is the lie or the illusion is the narcissist and what they do to us, hideous Gaslighting mind games, to distort our memories, our realities, to sell us something that isn’t even real, yet because it feels real, because, at that moment when they are treating us so well, we live that reality. When they treat us wrong, we live that nightmare. Yet, due to the narcissists manipulative gaslighting and Blame-shifting, with the added fact they will use our strengths and weaknesses to provoke us until we React, as even the best of people can only be pushed so far. They’ll downplay or outright deny their behaviour and exaggerate all of ours, leaving us questioning and blaming ourselves, especially with their intermittent play nice stages, to confuse us all the more. It’s hard to see the extent of the dire situation we are indeed in, and before we know it, we are in deep and have to climb our way back out.
An illusion has several meanings, and the narcissist delivers us each one of these.
Illusion is a false belief or idea. They will sell us a dream in that Idealisation stage of the relationship. With their Two faces, the admiration face, when they treat us so well for positive attention, and the envious face, when they treat us so wrong for negative attention, we are led by them to believe that their admiration face is who they are. Their envious face is who we made them to be, that the false reality is them, which it truly is them, both sides, that’s who they were in that moment which makes it all the harder to see that no matter how nice they can be, they are also extremely hurtful. Some are extremely dangerous because they can treat us better than anyone ever has. We can easily overlook when they treat us worse than anyone ever has, and our minds can look for the good in them, often with the narcissist’s help of their gaslighting of our minds. The narcissist’s wrong side is not worth living through for those odd moments of their nice side. No one deserves to be abused, and no one deserves to be treated so wrong. You did not cause it; you can not change it; it’s who they are. How a person treats you will always say more about them than it ever will you.
Illusion is an instance of a wrong or misinterpreted experience. We live the reality of the beginning when they treat us so well. Most deliver their promises in that idealisation stage, so when their admiration face fades, the face that seeks attention and acts so nice, and we get their hurtful face, the envious one that seeks to destroy us, due to their gaslighting and blame-shifting manipulation, we misinterpreted it as something we had done when we did nothing, it’s who they are.
Illusion is a deceptive appearance of togetherness. With all the false promises that they make, often to start, they might have wanted to spend so much time with you, and those false promises of a Fake Future all those plans together, just for them to walk away from each and every promise each and every time.
So just how do they do what they do to us?
If the narcissist in your life was a parent, boss, friend, family member, neighbour or partner, the person you met, or the nice side to that person that you think you know, is not who they indeed are, yes, it’s a part of them. Still, it’s an act to hide their true selves, it’s an act to exploit others to get their needs met, and they lack in Empathy. To care for who they hurt along the way.
They idealise us to draw us in like a moth to the flame, and once they have us close enough, we get burned.
They can idealise us, they mirror us, future fake with us, and raise us so high, so we genuinely believe they are a loving, kind, compassionate person who will always look out for us and be there for us. This might not always be the case with parents depending on where they are on the spectrum, if you were the golden child or the scapegoat child, either way, children often grow to not believe within themselves, to not love themselves and with so many self-doubts about who they are, always questioning if we’re enough, as we are raised by them, we don’t know any different and even though we might find their behaviour towards us extremely hurtful and wrong, it can take years before we realise this isn’t how we should be treated, as for friends, bosses and neighbours, we might know some thing is not right, our instincts might try to say something, but as we can not see it, as we believe people make mistakes, people care for other, people don’t want to hurt others, and they seemed like genuine people when we first meet them it’s hard to see through the illusion of what they indeed are, a partner will go all out in the idealisation stage to raise us so high, so we get tripped into falling head over heals In love with them.
Then out of nowhere, they hit us with the Devaluation stage, verbal abuse, those put-downs, telling us The overt “you can not do that.” Or the covert. “I wouldn’t do that if I was you.” The Silent Treatment. that causes us so much psychological pain, we question what on earth we did wrong and most often chase them, to avoid the drama and anxiety and pain, to restore peace, then they will project and blame-shift and gaslight us with. “You’re insecure.” “you’re just too sensitive.” “If you hadn’t, I wouldn’t.” “That didn’t happen.” If only you’d.” The overt “You look fat/too thin in that.” The covert “I wouldn’t wear that if I was you.” The lie after lie after lie, done in cruel ways, we don’t even see those lies; instead, we hear them as truths and question ourselves, the cheating, the false promises never delivered, which again is turned onto us, they exaggerate everything they do well or do good, exaggerating things and even making things up, so we question ourselves. They will say something, so we question ourselves, “I did that for you last week.” “How can you not remember.” ” you’re losing your mind.” And the classic. ” You’re going crazy.” And “You need help.” How many of us end up in therapy due to all the manipulative mind games a narcissist throws at us to take us down? Then, of course, they shall provoke an argument, especially when theirs a special occasion happening that they’ll not be the centre of attention of, or when they are trying to take escape any part of their wrongdoings, they will push, prod and poke, at all our, insecurities, vulnerabilities and weaknesses, all the things that matter most to us, as these are the things we shall most passionately defend so that we react. They can either downplay or forget what they did, and make a huge deal about what we did, so we take the blame and feel at fault. They will guilt trip, pity play, and triangulation to break down our boundaries one by one. All this leaves us in a state of confusion, questioning our self-worth, our beliefs, our thoughts, our feelings, our opinions, our realities, our abilities, our trust, and so many more, often leaving us with anxiety, trauma bonding, depression, CPTSD and health issues. Which then, when they top it off by Smearing our name to those around us, and we are left so disorientated, them telling us. “We are going crazy.” We actually genuinely feel like we are, not understanding it’s those very people telling us this, that’s sending us this way, and even when we get a break, to escape them and the fog lifts, those what seem to be never-ending smear campaigns and mind games, with the help of the narcissists flying monkeys and enablers, who just do not see, like we once did not see, often isolated from any support, feeling like no one will ever understand, even the authorities seem to think we appear unhinged when we try to report them, and it’s soul-destroying and devastating.
With their devaluation stage. When we aren’t doing exactly what they want, exactly when they want, their envious face comes out, they become Jealous that we have a mind of our own. They seek to take us down, yet as we live, the reality of the idealisation stages, even though it’s all an act and an illusion to suck us in. Our minds become confused, and as they manipulate with all of the above tactics, so we tread carefully, walk on Eggshells and do all we can to help them while slowly destroying ourselves. Yet, we just do not see it, especially as bam, the nice admiration seeking face is back, idealising us again and making us feel great again. This reinforces within our minds that it must be us. It was never ever you. They confuse us by treating us better than anyone ever has, to then treat us worse than anyone ever has.
We fall in love with the lies of the person they sold to us. Then we have to deal with and overcome all the lies they deliver us.
As you move through recovery, the realisations of what’s genuinely happened can hit you one by one, and make no mistake, they can hit hard, what you’ve been through, what they’ve done, what you’ve put up with, just how insidious they indeed are, as the trance, the spell, the fog they put you in and under living under the illusion of their reality, working through our own guilt of being an enabler at times as we genuinely believed them and didn’t know or understand what our very own instincts were shouting out at us. Make no mistake. This is not your fault whatsoever. No one asks for this, and no one deserves this, we just get sucked into their games, and we do our absolute best to try and help and support them, believing they are a genuine person, not seeing, knowing or understanding the truth or the actual reality, due to their many manipulation tactics of our minds. And our minds are incredible things, as we see one reality, the illusion of the narcissist that plays nice, their admiration face, and they do it so charming and so convincing as that’s who they are in that moment in time. Yet, it’s an illusion, a cover-up, an act. They don’t honestly know who they are, why they change from one person to the other, from black to white, and with some, this can take days, months, weeks or even years, depending on what needs of theirs are being met. When they do all they can to portray themselves as a good, kind, loving person when all they are genuinely doing is matching our likes and our dislikes, learning all our weaknesses which everyone has, learning all our insecurities, learning all our strengths, goals and dreams, so they can match them, false promises to help and support us, to further down the line, Rip them wide open, one by one, take us down and try to destroy us, to devalue who we are little by little, as they feel criticism, or no longer in control, or jealous of us, so they feel a need to take us down. Some act on impulse others are extremely calculated, especially The Malignant narcissist. As the narcissistic personality disorder is on a spectrum, some of them are severe. Still, no matter which kind or to what extent you’ve been through, we are individuals with different tolerance levels and different pain thresholds, so it was as severe as it was to us personally. There are those who, once we understand what they are and what they do, we can learn to limit our time with them, respond and never react, and Observe and not absorb others. However, no contact is the only way, it’s not always easy. However, it’s a must.
Here’s another illusion that holds us back. In the Discard stage, the way they do this keeps us locked on that painful past which does not serve our happy future, the trauma bond, no closure given, then the narcissist moving straight on, and at some point, they come back for the Hoover, most people take them back, most of us don’t see what’s happening to start, with everything we’ve been through it’s almost normal all those highs and lows of the relationship, that Trauma Bond, we learn that relationships have bad patches. We work through them, which is true. Relationships have bad patches. They shouldn’t have lies, cheating, dishonesty and constant heartbreak; relationships are about two people coming together and being themselves, complementing each other, supporting each other. Not one taking the other down, so they no longer know who they are, but at some point, we get it. We make a conscious effort to say enough is enough. We make the decision to say, No more. It’s time to move on from this and stop dwelling on this.
Yes, we all need to learn about NPD, we all need to gain that clarity and understanding of what we have been through, so we can learn from it and grow from it, and this takes people different time scales, depending on how long and how much they have personally been through, we need to process the pain, the grief. We need to let it go and move on. For most, there comes the point when they can still read, listen and learn about it. It has no impact on their present or their future. The triggers slowly fade as they’ve created a new life. For others, there comes the point when they completely walk away from learning about it, which is ok so long as they understand and know enough not to fall back into it. What we focus on is what we become. No, I don’t mean you focused on abuse, so you got abuse. Nobody deserves to be treated that way when our minds are focused on the past. We stay stuck in that past. When we focus on fear, on the what-ifs, on the what will they do next, we are loving things within our minds that are not happening at that moment when the smear campaigns hit if we pay attention to them instead of ourselves and our truths, we focus more and more on why are they doing this? Why is this happening to me? The more we learn about what they do, the more answers we have to those whys. At the same time, we must focus on ourselves, on our new dreams on, our new future and on what will go right for us. The past is done. It happened. It needs leaving in the past, the present is the moment to find and create new things to be grateful for, to imagine a future of our dreams as the future is not yet written, and we have every opportunity and every possibility to write it as we now want to live.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with Click here for BetterHelp. (Sponsored.) Where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.
The two faces of a narcissist.