4. Living a Fantasy
Narcissists lie. I know, I shouldn’t just blurt it out like that, but it is true. One of the things that they use this skill for is to inflate themselves, what they’ve done and what they are likely to do in the future. This imaginary world they create can be confusing because it is easy to think that they believe it…and they may.
If you live with this for a long time you might find that you have become accustomed to
looking down on others as inferior.
No one is as gifted, talented and deserving as you and your family. You may also have an inflated sense of your entitlement. Some people refer to this as one of the narcissistic fleas. You get this behaviour from being with a narcissist and you have to remove it when you leave.
You may believe that you are the most successful, beautiful or intelligent.
Some of this may or may not be true, but you have been subjected to this fantasy creation for so long that it is even more difficult than average to be objective.
It is easy to get pulled into the illusion that is created with the web of lies. It can be very comforting to think that you
know more than anyone else
and that you are the only one that is “right”. This extreme form of having an opinion and arguing it at all costs is simply a reflection of insecurity, not better information, greater intelligence or an ability to understand.
Everyone forms their own opinions based on the information they have at hand and their own experience. Standing firm that any opinion is the “right” one and all other opinions are “wrong” feels strong but actually lacks wisdom. It is very seductive to be with someone who is very confident about how right they are until you realize how foolish they actually look to others around them. It is not possible to know anything for sure. All you know is what your opinion is.
You may also have an inflated sense of entitlement and feel as though only the very best is good enough for you.
You may be insulted if you are not treated preferentially.
This, of course, stems from the fact that you were living in the narcissist’s fantasy for a while and came to believe that some of the lies or exaggerations were true.
The opposite response to this situation is that you might
worry that people won’t believe you or take you seriously.
You secretly fear that you are not as successful, intelligent, accomplished, insert descriptor, as the narcissist you’ve been living with and therefore people will not think you are valuable.
5. An Inability to Trust
The lies have another impact on your perception of the world around you. You may have developed an inability to trust. If you happened to be the receptacle of the narcissist; a term I use as the person that gets blamed for things, baited and undercut, or the “scapegoat” in a family of narcissists, you may also fear people are out to get you. Someone HAS been out to get you, but behaving like this is still happening can have a negative on your relationships.
If you interpret every mistake as a slight and proof that
people are out to get you,
you are still in pain from being undermined in your relationship. Most people are not out to get you. Mistakes happen. They are normal and human. This behaviour is not ridiculous when you have been living with someone that is out to get you and to make you feel inadequate, small and ‘less than’. But it does look bad when you interpret accidents as attacks.
The extensive lying leaves you less likely to be able to trust.
The inability to trust may superficially sound like a good thing. You may tell yourself destructive things like, “if I hadn’t been so gullible, I would not have believed everything”. Deciding not to trust can feel like the perfect way to protect yourself, but ironically, it makes you more likely to end up with another narcissist in your life.
In order to form a genuine relationship with a new friend or lover, you need to be able to trust them. At the beginning of a relationship there is always an exchange of information, favours and gestures. If you immediately distrust people, this exchange does not occur, unless the person is persistent and floods you with attention, support and compliments — which is what narcissists do.
By not trusting you are effectively eliminating the potential friends and lovers that you actually want in your life and giving the narcissists the advantage.
I have another post dedicated to how to discourage a narcissist from dating you. If you are worried about choosing another one, it might be worth a read.
6. Depression, Anxiety, Nervousness
Finally, you probably experienced emotional hardship at the hands of your narcissist. This could leave you
depressed, “emotionally raw”, anxious, nervous, sad, angry…..
There are as many possible emotional responses as there are people. Be honest with how you are feeling. Honour your experience. Try to observe how it is affecting your behaviour.
You may have turned to addiction.
This could be legal or illegal drugs, eating, working, shopping, sex, gambling etc. These are all a way of not confronting how you feel. They keep you numb or preoccupied so that you don’t feel all of the emotions that are waiting to come out.
Know there is a hole in your heart and a tear in your self-confidence that need mending. The work required takes a lot of time and support and it is a painful process, but it is worth it. Becoming aware of how this experience may have changed how you act is a good step forward and away from that part of your life. Good luck.