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23 Comments to
The Biggest Misconception about Narcissism

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  1. It’s helpful to read this. I loved my husband, and I truly wanted him to be happy. He told me I ruined his life, that I was unlovable, and that I was a messed-up b–ch who didn’t know how to be in a relationship. I went to therapy, transferred so I could work closer to home, tried being more outgoing and less sad, and…it wasn’t enough. It never would have been, but I didn’t know or want to believe it.

    I was devastated when he discarded me and unabashedly and openly celebrated his affair with a student. He justified adultery and lying, threatened me, and tried everything he could to destroy me. I had known he had signs of NPD. I read books and tried to think of how I could help. I figured that he hurt, that he was a victim, and I thought praying, wishing, forgiveness, tolerance, and empathy would help heal him and us. He still left, hurt my reputation, took all the money, and never looked back.

    • Hi Tara, I am sorry you went through such a painful experience. I can relate to how difficult and hurtful it is. I tried all the things you tried, too, back when I was in a toxic marriage…all to no avail.

      I hope you’ll be able to see that you deserve much better than to be treated that way. Wishing you all the very best.

      Kim

      • I’m 63, my daughter is 45, granddaughter 26 and They both thank me for walking away when I have to because they both have made wonderful lifetime mate choices n NOT repeated what I’ve been vulnerable to. Last time this week He’s in jail, I’m homeless yet walking out again. I’m re injured and broken in all ways-again. I was completing my Master’s etc., w no debt n money when I got involved w him after being caregiver to my sister then Mother and closed both their eyes to Cancer. I’m still in complex grief. I beleive this left me vulnerable to his wonderful side. Our kids WATCH WHAT WE DO-when we make mistakes-Not hear what we give Lip Service to. I have peace because of my young women having such precious real men as companions.

    • Tara this is so heartbreaking to read 😢 I know that journey/process all too well. I really hope your education on it all now has lead you to picking yourself up and being a stronger and better version of yourself than you ever have been. I was broken and didn’t want to be alive. The way I did it was turning to nostalgia: my happiest times from when I was at school when I was 14-16. I saw a best friend from school that I hadn’t seen in years, a ridiculously emotional-intelligent friend, that knew me during my beer times and told me, because she knew, that I didn’t love myself; I had fallen out of love with myself- whatever had happened to me (because I was yet to educate myself at this point.) But I knew I had to sort it; at first for him, like you, but then it became for myself. I owed it to myself. I’d pitied myself for the first time in my 26 years of being alive on this earth; I cried for myself. And I did it. I’m 27 and have a Groovy Chick bed cover on, a lava lamp: I look at all my old, happiest pictures and talk about happy times whenever I can. I go to the parks where I grew up and would play football with my friends, I started going to the pub with a group of friends that lead me to spending hours talking about my happiest times in life- with people that thought the world of me. Something my narcissistic ex-boyfriend never could or would, or even wanted to, see. I hope you can achieve the same for yourself, you just have to work on it and tap into it. Then you will be happier than ever.

      All the best x

  2. Yes this and Dan Neuharth’s decoding are excellent tools to help us so called fools to avoid these people.
    I tend to be open and non judgmental, which made me abs fodder for my ex whose freaky control behaviour created more drama than a bus load of thespians who cant find a mirror.

    • “…more drama than a busload of thespians who can’t find a mirror.” Good one! I’ll have to use that some time.

  3. I’ve been married for 34 years and have two beautiful children ages 24 and 27. I realized that no matter how much I tried to be the wife my husband wanted that it was never good enough.He blamed me for everything that was not good in his life including his 4 year affair.He said that I was angry with him a lot and that it’s not his fault that some other woman was nice and loving and saved him from depression and almost suicide. He was able to convince me that I was a terrible person and hence the affair. I was willing to change but after so many discussions I realized that he wasn’t making any efforts. I moved out over a year ago and in that time I was able to put a label on his behaviour. Narcissism…just as you describe it!

    I am currently in the middle of getting divorced but my biggest heartache is that he has turned my 24 year old son against me.My son still lives with him and he sees that his dad is so hurt and devistated because I want a divorce. My husband wants me to work things out and I won’t because I know better now. I wish I knew what to do about my son.

    • Hi Jane,

      This is a difficult situation, for sure. I hear about this rather frequently from my coaching clients and my heart goes out to you and anyone else in this position.

      I know it hurts tremendously, but the best advice I can give is to try to be non-judgmental toward your son…divorce is painful for them in most cases, regardless of whether it involves parental alienation (which is also common when trying to co-parent with a narcissistic individual). Do what you can to be there for him if he reaches out, but don’t try to continuously go above and beyond…specifically, don’t try to prove your worth as you did with your Ex. Most children eventually figure things out on their own and come back to a parent they’ve estranged themselves from. In the meantime, you may want to see if there are any support groups you can join for alienated parents. I also have a book recommendation: https://goo.gl/PdvcbT

      Wishing you all the best.

      Kim

  4. Thank you for your blog, Kim. I have been doing the Narcissistic Personality/Disorder research for a couple of years, and I totally agree that ‘they can never change’. They can ‘dish it out’ but they can’t take it from anyone else. They don’t have a conscience so they have no clue what walking-on-egg-shells does to the other person’s psyche, and they don’t care as it is. Whatever it takes for them to stay in control, that is their main itinerary. Confronting them does no good, as they see no need to be accountable for their actions. And some of the most bizarre words come out of their mouths at the strangest moments, when they are ‘straining at a gnat’ to prove the other person insane or wrong. Their charade of ‘neediness’ is the name of their game when ‘needing’ their Narcissistic supply, when they are ‘done’ with their latest victim, moving on to their next one.
    They may have walked on egg shells as a child, around an abusive parent, but they learned to protect themselves, and know exactly what they are done. Shrewd, subtle, and blatant liars abound in the Narcissistic format. What keeps the victims hypnotized is the lavishing of gifts, or the attempt at being overly nice, or romantic, and that is when the game is hard to justify leaving these damaged people. I know now how not to let their ego control my own self value. Thank you for your boldness and wisdom in helping victims take charge of their own lives. God bless!

  5. Hi Kim:

    This is an excellent article that brings clarity and pushes against the injustices of the tempting myths that dangle before the lives of many who are in relationship with narcissists. Thank you. I have a question: My nephew’s dad behaves as close to spot on as you can get with regard to narcissism. His parents are divorced and I’ve been talking with him about his experiences and interactions with his dad as of late. He is 14 now and doesn’t understand his dad’s narcissistic approach to relationships and life. At his age, without bashing his father, is it an appropriate time to start teaching him specifically about narcissism? He spends every other week with his dad and is really struggling. Thank you, Kim.

    • Hi Andrew, thank you for your kind praise!

      Yes, it’s a good idea to help your nephew learn about manipulative people without mentioning his father. This way, he can learn that abusive people act this way for reasons of their own which have nothing to do with the innocent people they project their negativity onto.

      If he brings up his father himself, then you may want to think of a way to approach the situation delicately.

      Wishing you and your nephew the best!

  6. Hello Kim:

    Thanks for the timely article. I believe in miracles and it would be a miracle if the narc did change without an agenda. I have been through this before so I know there is no chance of change with my spouse. Facing this truth is painful, but the truth shall set you free.

    Why waste another precious minute with a loser, user, abuser when I can love myself so much better than that? Yes I am suffering emotionally, financially, mentally, spiritually but in the end I will be a better, stronger person and hopefully our son will understand why I had to go NC.

    I am focusing on my healing/recovery and moving on with a new beginning. I choose to learn from this mess and get off the hamster wheel of abuse.

    Thanks for all your help Kim.

    • Hi Shirley, I believe you are experiencing your “Phoenix Process”. We must die to our old selves so we can be born anew. It’s painful, but the end result is worth it.

      Wishing you all the best as you move forward into higher levels of healing and happiness.

      Kim XoXo

      • Thank you Kim for your reply. I will research Phoenix process.

  7. Thanks for this article! I learned everything in it the hard way, but finally got out and my life has been transformed. My 4 children (ages18 to 28) are also healing. The toxicity of the narc and the insanity of being in a relationship with a narc becomes more and more clear as time goes on. I hope young people in toxic relationships will read this and get out while they are young and their children are young. I wish I’d known about narcissism years ago…it would have been much better for my kids if I’d divorced when they were young. The consequence was physical damage to my son on top of the horrific emotional and verbal abuse. It’s better to be a poor single parent then exposing your kids to the poison and abuse.

    • I agree, Lex. We’re not really providing our children with “creature comforts” if part of their environment includes toxic verbal (and physical) abuse. I was that poor parent for a while…and I’ve never eaten a tastier peanut butter cracker than the ones I ate when I left my toxic marriage.

  8. It’s been a few years now since I successfully recovered from narcissistic abuse. Sure, every now and then I recall the narcissist ex-boyfriend, but never fondly or in a flattering light.

    This latest essay is very timely because I stumbled upon a youtube video where the licensed psychotherapist claimed that narcissists could be cured. I was shaking my head throughout his entire ten minute video.

    • Thank you for stopping by, avesraggiana. I’ve seen similar material out there…many by PhDs and similarly licensed professionals. I’ve been in this field for several years now and I’ve not seen or heard of a single case where a narcissist was cured. You know those articles you read which state even therapists are conned by the narcissist? I believe it’s these very therapists who believe they’re making a difference in the lives of narcissists (and their poor partners) when in reality, it’s all part of the narcissist’s parody.

      Alternately, if a person is truly striving to make improvements in their life, then they probably aren’t a narcissist to begin with.

  9. Dear Kim, I thank you for this site. I’m living with one of these manipulators for 20 years. He’s talking to women like he isn’t married. I need advice on how to get a divorce. I did put him out early this yeat but his brother passed and his mother was grieving so I let him back on the couch. I’ve expressed to him that he will not blame me for his choices. I want him gone but he refuses to leave. What can I do? I’m a homemaker need affordable council in Ohio. Feed Up and Frustrated.

  10. Thank you so much for this article! When a victim is healing from narcissistic abuse, it’s very damaging for professionals and others to tell the victim, “I am sure they meant well with their mean comments, or “they still must have really loved you.”

    This is dismissive to the victim’s pain, because the victim is trying to process all of the cruel things that the narcissist has done. Telling the victim that the narcissist meant well feels like gaslighting to me. I am disappointed at how the general public is uneducated about this. I hope friends, family and professionals can understand that the narcissist knows what they’re doing. It helps reassure the victim that they’re not crazy for noticing the narcissist’s behavior. If you look at all of the little signs and the things that narcissists say, it does show that they are intentionally cruel.

    • RG, I agree with your statements. I wish to add that I’ve encountered many individuals who try to take a “fair” or “neutral” stance by saying things like, “Nobody’s perfect” or “Well, you’re not 100% innocent. You have to admit that you must have done things to hurt him, too.” I felt re-victimized by statements like these, especially when they came from people I respected. I wish people knew that narcs are a special case. THEY do not play fair, they are devious, and they go above and beyond in their tactics to “win.”

    • Absolutely, RG. Lack of properly trained professionals is by far the biggest impediment to a victim’s recovery.

  11. Kim,

    From the bottom of my heart: thank you. Liberation for me has been a mix of educating myself for the last 9 months through countless articles and learning practically by going back and seeing what I had learnt/was leaning unfurl before my very eyes- due to a mixture of manipulation, denial, hope, pity and what you have explained above (“education” that fooled me into thinking he could be helped when he is nothing but a dark, empty vessel. A wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing- maybe one of the hardest parts to psychologically comprehend. This person I found so attractive and said all these (manipulative) lines couldn’t possibly be the monster (wolf) I was looking at each time I looked at him. He was a beautiful sheep. Denial.) I really appreciated your line about there being so much abuse you can’t comprehend it as a victim/human being because of our capacity in general. I have found myself during the learning journey say how I knew I was allowing myself to go back due to an inability to comprehend just how vile he had treated me. It was the only way I could go back and I knew it. I’d replay vile treatment in my head and could remember it vividly; I just couldn’t comprehend it or feel its force. I’d never met someone like him who could treat me, a decent, caring, loving human being who had nothing but pure love for him in such a way.

    This utterly liberating article describes the last stage of the process I went through: I stopped wanting to be my ex-boyfriend’s GF a long time ago and wanted to be his carer, because I felt, as your article basically describes, that it wasn’t his fault he was the way he was (it was nature and nurture- out of his control. After all: we are all born a blank slate.) I’d watched the ways his mum and dad were with him and could see how their lack of negative reinforcement had lead him to being what he had become- plus I’m quite sure he inherited his robotic-like biology from his mum (first degree relative.)

    I really cannot thank you for positively reinforcing this: my final learning/piece of the puzzle. Like you say: the other articles give you hope; they gave me hope that didn’t exist. But I’m glad they did because the last time I went back; the last bout of narcassitic rage I received allowed me to see him for what he truly was. There was no room for denial and hope anymore. I’d found black and white evidence that he’d been lying, and he still went from 0-100 in anger. I told myself before it was due to his inability to articulate his emotions, his refusal and inability to “justify” himself had been a result of his parents never negatively reinforcing his behaviour when they should have. He hadn’t been given the tools to do this so became frustrated and angry in situations; he wasn’t used to someone putting a mirror in his face and making him look at his behaviour face on. I believed this was why he had no empathy: his parents.

    Whatever the reason, whatever my reasons were: you nailed it with this article. The misconception is that you can help them. But you can’t. It is too late. And my narcissist showed me that during our final conversation. There is no helping or saving them from themselves; from the dark world they live in. Charlie has been living in that world for 26 years: who am I to be able to change that. He doesn’t want to change that.

    I’ve toyed with saying that I’d like to go back to the person I was before, but I wholeheartedly would not. This experience cost me a successful job; some friends and a whole lot else I’m sure. But it made me dig deep inside and make myself happy; build myself a world around me full of happiness. The emotional intelligence I have no is so powerful. The feeling of liberation is so empowering. Shakespeare said “The world has music for those who listen.” And that’s exactly what I have done. I collected puzzle pieces in the midst of it. From the darkest times when I had no idea what I was doing or where the rollercoaster would lead. But each day; each week; each month I have been able to educate myself and put them together to make the clearest puzzle of all. And again: this article reinforced that. For the 100th time for now and forever: thank you for this article.

    Charlotte x

 

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