The ache of being branded the villain in any inter-personal conflict is a unique pain. A dull, throbbing ache that haunts the soft-hearted, the empathic, the codependent, the scapegoat who tries their damnedest to always and only do the right thing. The narcissist’s victim who wails, as I once heard my mother cry, “Why am I always in the wrong!?!”
“I don’t see myself as a cork puller,” said sommelier Paul Grieco in the 2016 documentary Somm: Into the Bottle. “I look at myself as story-teller.”
He encapsulated perfectly how I approach Narcissism Meet Normalcy. This is an ongoing, unfolding story. Sometimes it’s your story told in your words. More often it’s the story of my healing journey from narcissists’ doormat to narcissists’ worst nightmare fighting for victims of narcissistic abuse everywhere. You’re basically reading my personal journal! Today’s article is inspired by the aftermath of the recent, painful demise of a friendship.
Narcissism survivors are very deep people. We don’t skim or skip over the surface of life. We drink deeply, searching for understanding. The mills of our mind grind slowly but exceeding fine. We long to understand what the Hell is going on in all this narcissistic craziness. While others say, “Big deal! Just get over it!” we say, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
“Why am I always in the wrong!?!”
In the throes of the drama that attends the ugly end of a relationship with a narcissist, you and I are obsessed with determining who did wrong, who did right, who is the villain, who is the saint. We hope we’re the saint. That’s not narcissistic; it’s human. It betrays how much we believe in morality, how desperately we want to be a good person. No one wants to be in the wrong. God knows how hard we tried to do the moral thing and take the other person’s feelings into consideration while still taking care of ourselves.
But a pissed off narcissist will always brand you as the villain. To reject, to anger, to hurt, to identify their flaws is to automatically become the villain while they play the saintly, wounded victim.
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In any human relationship, no one always does or says the right thing. But narcissistic abuse victims are careful, cerebral people. Codependent people. We think once, twice, thrice before speaking and acting lest we hurt anyone’s feelings. We can apologize. We are humble. And we have an amazingly high pain threshold for the thoughtless words, unkind actions of others. We conduct our relationships carefully, making choices after long deliberation. When we end the relationship, it is after even longer observation, careful deliberation, multiple wounds.
Yet, we will always be branded the villain. No matter how gently, how honestly, how accurately, how objectively, how carefully, how kindly we end the relationship — no narcissist will take “rejection” gracefully nor quietly.
Where we identified their real hoover/discard dynamics at play, they will demand we take their words at face value. They will accuse us of “reading into” their words for our “ulterior motive,” i.e. ending the relationship.
Where we say, “I forgive you,” they will not reciprocate despite our heartfelt apologies, then accuse us of being unforgiving when actually we are unforgetting.
“There’s no right in a wrong situation.”
Where we are kind and complimentary, trying to let them down gently while honestly expressing our pain, they will fan the flames of drama. No matter how objective and delicate you are, they will find ways to be “horribly insulted” because of “all they’ve done for us.”
Then they summon their flying monkeys to hit ya’ and hit ya’ again and project their vices onto you too.
You will always be the villain. I will always be the villain. Narcissist’s aren’t objective, they aren’t honest, they never fight fair. They play with loaded boxing gloves.
When I found myself in this situation last week, I turned to my friend, Patty, for counseling. You see, I was pretty sure I wasn’t the Bad Guy. It was the fervency with which I didn’t want to be the Bad Guy that scared me. Isn’t a determination to not be in the wrong a hallmark of narcissism!?!
Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.
Worse yet, if I wasn’t in the wrong, if I was actually in the right — that terrified me too! I’m not used to being right. Clinging to my honestly won High Ground just felt, felt, wrong. Weird. Uncomfortable even. I’ve been painted as “wrong” by Bible-thumping, projecting narcissists my whole life. As much as I hate it, there’s a comfort level in always sitting in the naughty corner.
Thankfully, Patty’s known me a long time. She’s read all my articles and assured me I’m not a narcissist. If I was, she would’ve told me. I’ve never known Patty to pull her punches! So that was a relief!
Neither party in a relationship is 100% perfect, but we need to trust ourselves. There’s no shame, no guilt in stepping away from a friendship that brings us no joy anymore.
Don’t allow the narcissist to tell you what your motives are/were. You’re smart enough and honest enough to know exactly what your true motives were. You’re also smart enough to identify projection when you see it. To deduce victim playing and fend off those Flying Monkeys! Don’t let them brainwash and mind control you. Nowhere does it say, “Thou shalt remain in an abusive friendship.”
So “work the steps.” Go back to the basics. Brush up on the primary, secondary and tertiary traits and tactics of narcissists.
Remember: THEY ARE A NARCISSIST. They’re not like you and I. Understand their actions and their words in the context of the narcissism paradigm.
I know how much it hurts to always be the scapegoat, the villain. I’m right there with you! But time, the Greatest Healer, will salve the wound if only we could stop picking at it!