In May of 2019, I was notified that one of my engulfing narcissistic relatives had died.
As it turns out, the people who rushed to tell me had jumped to conclusions. There are many relatives who share that particular surname. They just assumed it was my particular narcissist who had passed away.
In fact, my narcissist had not died. However, during the thirty-six hours when I believed it to be true, I experienced a plethora of emotions. It gave me a sneak-preview of how one feels when an engulfing narcissist passes away.
This is a short excerpt of what I wrote during that time.
On Monday, one of my narcissists died.
My first reaction to the news was, “Now everyone is free.”
“Narcissus” was old, full of years, blessed beyond measure, surrounded by healthy, happy family who loved them but it’s still sad and still a shock. You know it’ll happen…someday. You just never expect it to be today.
I’m so torn, remembering the good times when I was little and innocent and naïve, having the best time with Narcissus. We played. We ate. Their home was always full of delightful fragrances. The delicious smell of turkey slowly roasting at Thanksgiving. The distinctive fragrance of the Folgers Instant Coffee I still drink today. The hot smell of the dishwasher running. Of fabric softener. Of mothballs. The smell of clean.
Like all of us, Narcissus was a dichotomy. Like me, they would cry at the drop of a hat. On the other hand, Narcissus had no empathy for their Scapegoated child. For me, that was the clue that, copious weeping aside, Narcissus had the typical lack of empathy of a narcissist and all the victim-playing, control, shaming and triangulation of a narcissist as well. The armchair diagnosis wasn’t difficult.
While laughter and generosity were part of Narcissus’ character, broad mindedness wasn’t. They were extremely judgmental. You couldn’t have a normal conversation with Narcissus. There were so many minefields, so many patches of quicksand of Narcissus’ disapproval, that you had to be very verbally nimble to have any conversation with Narcissus at all. It wasn’t fun.
I’d been trained from my childhood on how to converse with Narcissus. Michael wasn’t. Being honest and straightforward, he fell foul of Narcissus almost immediately.
Well, I’ll be damned if I sit back and let someone be mean to my man! I’d waited thirty-two years to meet Mr. Wonderful and no one was going to abuse him after he finally came into my life. Stepping away was a no-brainer.
In the end, this was why I finally went No Contact with Narcissus in 2013. (I’d wanted to in 1998 but been shamed back into contact.) I was only “allowed” six months of freedom. After that, Narcissus sent the Sheriff to our doorstep. I’ve never quite forgiven Narcissus for that. Where was the Welfare Check when I was being held against my will!?! Like so many narcissists, Narcissus always gets the wrong end of the stick.
Narcissus was kind to many, many people and enjoyed rescuing people, especially old people, but they hurt those closest to them. That’s why I use the word “Torn” in the title of this article.
I’m grateful for everything they ever did, ever gave, ever shared. One of the things I treasure most is how Narcissus shared as much family history and as many family stories as possible. That’s precious. Now I consider myself the family archivist and have published most of those stories to my website for posterity.
I was hoping that Narcissism Meets Normalcy would give my family and Narcissus a chance, perhaps their last chance, to reconsider their lives. One last chance to stop! Change! Drop the narcissism! Stop hurting each other!
Instead, Narcissus responded just as I had predicted: more victim-playing. It was an insult to my intelligence. After pointing out their victim-playing in my articles, responding by playing the victim about the articles surely wasn’t going to change my mind. It was meant as manipulation but instead was so, so validating.
There’s still time, as it turns out. The tales of my relative’s death had been greatly exaggerated, to misquote Mark Twain. Narcissus is still with us and I’m glad of it. But has their narcissism decreased with age? Only God knows.