The words I used to associate with narcissism are: Pompous, arrogant, grandiose, cocky, conceited with an inflated sense of self-importance.
Then I actually had “interactions” “friendships” and “relationships” and with men and women who have narcissistic personality disorder. The word narcissism has taken on a different meaning and vibe.
When I hear narcissism now, words like selfish, manipulative, predator, heartless, soulless, delusional, toxic, emotional-vampires, self-absorbed, and mind-fuck come to mind. They literally “search” for impressionable and innocent individuals as if they can sense your weaknesses like an animal. Individuals with this disorder are very charming, charismatic and complimentary at first.
They know exactly how to subtilely flatter you and make you “feel good”. Over time they intensify this excessive and insincere praise to butter you up and hook you. They usually have some kind of “sob story” to facilitate compassion from your kind heart and lead you to believe that “you are the only one they confided this to.” Hence they take advantage of your good intentions and thoughtful, giving nature by inadvertently causing you to feel special.
This initial euphoria (dopamine release) is what keeps you coming back for more. You like how you “feel” around this person. For once, someone is giving to you and it feels amazing. You feel full, admired, cherished, adored and loved.
They enjoy being responsible for your emotions and having power over your reactions. They groom you to become dependent on this euphoria until you become vulnerable enough to allow them to invade your soul.
- You trust them wholeheartedly.
- You feel like there is no one else is this world who understands you like they do.
- You feel a deep connection to this person that almost becomes an obsession.
When the narcissist is aware that you are completely defenseless and completely enamoured with their tantalizing charm; this is when they strike. Usually it begins with subtle passive aggressive comments that confuse you and trigger insecurity and/or self-doubt. You may feel stung or humiliated and react emotionally. They will then minimize your reaction by twisting things around to make you look or feel irrational. #gaslighting
Then they will turn up the charm again, deepening your vulnerability by preying on your weakness in this raw, emotional state. They will use all the information and disclosures you provided them in confidence. Either they will hurt you more by using it against you or they will fill this void with whatever is missing. They will do exactly what makes you feel the most loved. Usually with whatever your love language is: lavish gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service like cleaning without asking, fixing your car or surprising you with dinner. The most dangerous is the physical affection or mind blowing sex that will completely impair your judgement.
They will “feed” off this emotional roller coaster they put you through and this “feeding” will temporarily sustain them. This pattern will continue until you begin to question your sanity, your decision making and how you feel about them or yourself. They will sense your ambivalence and “up the ante” and do things to make you feel crazier.
They may suddenly withdraw by ceasing to return calls or texts. They may stand you up for lunch or not show up for things. They behave aloof, rude or become cold and distant. They may begin to pick fights with you, accuse you of cheating, start “hanging out” with another “friend” making you jealous. They may play favorites with your siblings leaving you feel never good enough. They may cheat on you or talk badly about you to someone else.
After this, you may be convinced you are clinically insane. Your emotions will feel so out of control and irrational that you wonder if perhaps you are the problem; not them. Since you have been strung out on the dopamine high they have been steadily supplying you, you will feel an intense withdrawal. This withdrawal is similar to a deep exhaustion or a hangover. You could feel worn out, drained, exhausted, depressed, anxious, paranoid, hopeless, worthless, and weak. You may feel imprisoned and trapped like there is no way out.
Then they pounce on your vulnerability and feed off whatever emotion and reaction you provide them. Negative or positive reaction; it doesn’t matter. They need this emotional fix to survive so they will do whatever they have to do in order to receive a “reactional feeding”.
You may begin to feel desperate and do things out of character. You may even wonder how you used to be happy before this person walked into your life. You may re-trace when you started to care so much about how this person feels about you. You may speculate why you keep trying to win their affection or attention.
Out of this desperation, you may precariously decide to do anything to make this person happy. You muster up the strength for one more last-ditch effort in order to see that charming, charismatic, loving person they once were.
Under the delusional belief that deep down “they care about you” and they have empathy; you may attempt to “force” them to understand how you feel. You will inevitably be heartbroken and devastated. This is an endless cycle that you can waste years on.
Hopefully you will love yourself enough to recognize that this “emotional vampire” has an insatiable thirst. They will leave you once you have nothing left to give and there is no supply left to “thrive”. They are incapable of true love and believe your purpose on this earth is to serve them and supply them without ever having to reciprocate. They do not feel guilty or remorse. It is all an act.
This person could be a significant other, sibling, family member, friend or in worst cases; a parent. The only way out is feeling the pain, learning and growing from it. Meanwhile, maintaining no contact with this person at all. Zero communication or reactions is the only way to end this cycle and break free from their control and toxicity.
The devil doesn’t show up wearing horns and a pitchfork; they show up disguised as everything you ever wanted.