For those of us that have lived with a narcissist, especially if the narcissist was significant to you like a lover or parent, there are behaviours that you might have adopted to deal with your circumstances. These can be destructive behaviors that do not always shine the best light on you. Some people refer to these as narcissistic fleas. You get them from being with a narcissist and you have to remove them when you leave. Take a look at some of the examples below and see if they resonate with you.
You are not likely to have all of the traits, but you may have some.
1. Appearing Emotionally Immature
You have been in an emotionally abusive relationship. Even if you are now out of the relationship and have sworn “no contact”, some of the behaviours you learned to deal with the situation may have become patterns, so they are worth looking for. When you are with someone that has learned to manipulate you through making you feel bad about yourself, you become what I call, “emotionally raw”. Picture a skinned knee. Eventually, it will scab over and heal and the skin below will return to normal, but, right now it is fresh and bleeding. Any touching, even for cleaning, causes an immense amount of pain.
Your wounds are intentionally being kept open by your narcissist. That means that when you are with other people you might
overreact to slights
feel the need to defend bad behaviours
instead of taking responsibility for them.
You might also
strike out against people
using offensive or inappropriate remarks as a defense tactic when a normal comment would do. The other people don’t know you’re bleeding and hurt. They only see the extreme behaviour and it is difficult to comprehend why someone would behave that way.
Another thing that a narcissist will do is control, which emotions may or may not be expressed. This is done through criticism, taunting, attacks and the silent treatment. Some behaviours are not allowed and you learn not to express them. If anger was acceptable and sadness was not,
you might appear hostile when you are actually hurt.
If only overly positive emotions were allowed and anger was not, you might appear to be
making fun of someone when you should be taking them seriously.
There are countless combinations emotions that were either allowed or not allowed that would result in what would appear to be an
inappropriate emotional reaction to a situation.
These responses would be incomprehensible to anyone who has not lived with a narcissist so it would make people think that you might not be normal, or worse that you are callous and uncaring.
You may have learned to hide emotions as much as possible. The problem with holding emotions at bay and not expressing them is that you need to let them out at some point. If you don’t express your feelings when something happens, they will build up and when your guard is down or when you get ticked off you will
have an exaggerated emotional response.
Overblown responses may take the form of anger, laughing, crying or any other emotion and they may make you appear immature. Unfortunately, they can be expected from anyone who does not express their emotions especially when they are emotionally raw.
You may also not realize the appropriate way to behave when you see someone in pain or upset. Generally, people comfort each other. In a narcissistic household, someone that is upset may be ridiculed, coddled or ignored. Reflect back on your experience and observe how you react when you see someone in distress.
Are you able to show others that you care how they feel?
The opposite may be true. It is possible that only highly emotionally charged situations got attention. You may find that
you exaggerate how you are feeling.
This might take the form of being overly hurt or insulted. You may be overjoyed at the smallest event or amazed at something minor. This may have been one of the ways you could be “seen” in your home. Normal reactions may not have generated any interest.
In order to release the emotions you have stored up you need to feel them. Allow yourself to experience your emotions as much as you can. Try to not pass judgement or tell yourself how you are “supposed” to feel or react. Relearning how to allow yourself to feel and express emotions is worth the effort. Try checking in frequently with your body until you understand how the sensations coming from it change. Meditation can help with this. Try naming any emotions you observe. Start with: mad, glad, sad or bad and then see how specific you can get. This will help you begin to learn to understand what your body is communicating.